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Luke Thompson
Luke Thompson
Wednesday, November 22nd 2017

It's possible to cancel even if you’re in the middle of your contract, and straightforward at any other time. So if you no longer want your home broadband service, follow our tips to do it with the minimum of fuss.

Cancel or switch your provider?

First, identify whether you want to completely cancel your contract because you no longer need broadband, or if you just want to switch to a different provider.

You won’t have to cancel if you’re switching

If you’re switching to a new provider rather than just cancelling outright, all you’ll need to do is order a new deal online and your new provider will cancel your current contract for you. It couldn't be simpler. Get stuck in and compare the best deals now by entering your postcode below.

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Your email address may be tied to your provider

Also consider if your email address is tied to your provider or whether you use a free independent service, such as Yahoo or Gmail. If it’s the former, you might not be able to use your email address when you cancel or switch, so you’ll need to transfer your contacts and emails to a new account, or ask if your provider offers a service to re-direct them.

Check the small print

If you definitely want to cancel, dig out your broadband contract from when you first joined the provider to check the date and minimum term. Most broadband deals run on 12-month or 18-month contracts, and if you’ve passed this minimum period you can give notice to cancel whenever you like, without penalty.

If you are not out of contract, you may incur termination fees – unless you switch to Sky

If you’re still within the initial contract term, you can usually still cancel but will be liable to pay the remaining monthly payments and often an additional termination fee as well. You might also be asked to return any equipment and should do so promptly to avoid additional charges.

However, if you want to switch to Sky broadband but haven't reached the minimum term of your existing contract, you can take advantage of the Sky buyout scheme. Sky will help towards your cancellation fees by crediting your Sky account with up to £100. But this offer is only available when you order a new Sky package over the phone on 0800 840 5394.

Call our Sky hotline on 0800 840 5394 0800 840 5394
for more information on claiming £100 credit.

Contact to cancel

The small print will detail how you need to cancel – by phone, letter or email – and how much notice you’re required to give. The standard term is 30 days, so aim to time it right if you’re vacating a property.

As we’ve mentioned, if you’re switching to a new provider rather than just cancelling outright, you won’t have to contact your old provider to cancel. The one exception is Virgin Media. If you’re switching to or from Virgin Media, you will have to contact both providers when you wish to cancel.

Call Virgin Media on 0345 454 1111 0345 454 1111
for cancellations or upgrades

Lines open 8am to midnight, 7 days a week

Cancel your direct debit to stop further payments

Confirm when your final payment will be taken, then cancel your direct debit. While no further payments should be debited once you’ve cancelled, it’s not uncommon for errors to occur or a delay in your broadband account being updated. Stopping your direct debit at source is a good way to prevent another payment taken by mistake.

Get-out clause

If the cost of your broadband plan has increased during your contract, you can leave your internet service provider without being charged any kind of early termination fees.

Ofcom guidelines can let you leave early

Thanks to new Ofcom guidelines published in October 2013, providers are now required to give consumers at least 30 days’ notice of any price rises to the monthly cost of a fixed-term contract and allow you to exit without penalty.

Poor service may be a reason to cancel

Even if you’ve not been hit with a price rise, you may still be able to escape your contract if the provider has failed in providing an acceptable level of service. Just like consumers are required to meet monthly payments, providers are obliged to deliver the service we pay for, so failure to do this is a breach of contract.

Use an Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme for help

Read through your contract to be sure of your position, then contact your provider to formally report the issue and keep a record of all correspondence. If the problem isn’t resolved within eight weeks or you are unhappy with the provider’s response, ask for a deadlock letter to take your complaint to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.

All internet service providers (ISPs) must belong to one of the two ADR schemes in the UK – the Ombudsman Services: Communications, or the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS). If you are still unable to resolve the problem, contact Ofcom directly.

Frequently asked questions

What are cancellation fees?

Cancellation fees, also known as termination fees, are charged by your provider to cover the final months remaining on your contract. The more months you have remaining on your contract, the higher these charges will be. Termination fees also cover the administration charges associated with cancellation.

Do I have to pay them?

If you’re still within the minimum term of your contract, and you’re outside the initial cooling-off period, then yes, you will have to pay cancellation fees. But there are some provisos, including mid-contract price rises and poor service. If you don’t pay them, debt collectors may visit your property.

What constitutes ‘poor service’?

Poor service includes bad customer service, delays in installation, slow broadband speeds, and frequent service dropouts. You will need to build up a case file, listing the dates and circumstances of problems, along with recorded audio and photographic evidence (where possible).

Even with this, your broadband provider may not let you cancel without penalty. In this situation, you’ll want to take your case and collected evidence to either the Communications Ombudsman, or CISAS.

Do I have to return equipment?

If you cancel, you may have to return your equipment, such as your broadband router and TV set-top box. Some providers may assume that you want to keep the equipment and will charge you, so be sure to ask if you’re not sure.

Why are my cancellation charges so high?

Cancellation charges are calculated on the months remaining on your contract. If you have a 12-month contract and cancel after six, you have to pay for the remaining six months of service upfront. Some providers may also charge you a cease fee.

If you’re cancelling several services at once (such as TV, broadband and home phone), your cancellation charges will be higher, as you’ll have to pay the outstanding charges on all these services at once.

Can I reduce my cancellation charges?

Generally, the cancellation charge stated by your provider will be the one you pay. But if you’re having trouble paying, it’s always worth talking to your provider . Customer service representatives are people too, and if you’re having real difficulty paying for cancellation, they’re likely to offer help in some form.

If you are switching to Sky broadband but haven't reached the minimum term of your existing contract, you can claim up to £100 Sky account credit. You'll have to claim within 90 days of your service going active and by calling calling 0800 840 5394. This offer isn't available online.

Can I cancel for free?

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to cancel your contract for free. The only time this would apply is if you’re out of contract, and simply want to switch provider. Even then, you may be charged a cease fee.

I’m out of contract, so why am I being charged?

Some providers charge a cease fee for the termination of service. If the out-of-contract cessation fee is surprisingly high, it’s worth calling customer services and asking them to double check your contract as it may be an administrative error.

I want to cancel, but can’t contact the account holder – how can I cancel?

If you’re not the account holder, but are the bill payer, it can be frustrating trying to cancel when you can’t contact the former. It’s worthwhile having a note of the account details and passwords before this happens so you can still cancel your service. If you’re renting and your landlord holds the account, contact your letting agency for assistance.

Can I cancel in writing?

If by writing you mean email, then, in general, yes you can. A written letter may not be accepted, especially if it doesn’t include your account details and signature. Whenever possible, cancel over the phone.

My provider raised its prices – can I cancel for free?

New Ofcom regulations state that you can indeed cancel without penalty if your provider raises its agreed prices mid-way through your contract. You only have a 30-day window from the beginning of this price increase to cancel, after which it’s automatically determined that you’ve agreed to this increase.

I’ve moved house and can no longer get broadband – will I be charged cancellation?

Unfortunately yes, you will. Even if you’ve only just started your contract, if you move to an area outside your provider’s network, you’ll have to cancel, and you’ll have to pay for termination.

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This ensures you receive accurate information on the availability of providers and packages in your area.

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