I'm out of contract with BT for broadband and landline. I receive VDSL superfast service with land line for which I pay a monthly fee to BT. I recently have had techinical problems with the Home Hub 5 which needs replacing. Talking with the BT customer support I was informed that since I was out of contract, the HH5 was out of warranty. However, if I signed up for 18 months contract I could get a like for like replacement and continue at same monthly rate.
I asked what advantages there would be signing up to 18mo contract over my current situation. This seems to be the warranty on the HH5 (no update to the newest smart hub available to new customers) and avoidance of a £2.50/mo price rise.
I then asked what additional obligations there were on me under the contract. If I were to terminate the contract early, then there is an early-termination charge. I enquired what this liability might be and was told that there was no way for this information to be made available and that this could only be determined on exit. To guage the scale of the obligation, I enquired what the maximum liability might be on termination one day after the cooling off period. The value team agent then repeated that there was no way of getting this information - it is decided only when it occurs. I then asked his confirmation that a critical contractual obligation was undefined at the time the customer was asked to agree to the terms and conditions. At this point the "Value Team" agent terminated the call.
My understanding of the general basis for legal agreements under English law is that the obligations on both parties are defined adequately such that informed agreement is possible. If a potential curstomer liability is not defined or bounded on sign up, then this surely is contrary to the framework of English law.
So my question is - is the BT customer contract actually defendable?
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If you do not want to be tied to a new contract, and if the HH5 is faulty, they you are free to use your own third party router (about £40) if you wish, and leave everything else alone, just paying the extra £2.50 a month, but be free to leave anytime.
If BT replace the home hub, and you cancel within the 18 month contract, then as well as cancellation charges, you would be charged for the home hub as well, as its supplied on a deferred payment basis, which if free after the end of the contract.
Forumhelp (Private website) Lots of additional information and help.
You will need to be connected to your home BT Broadband connection to view it, or any links to it that I post on this forum.
The cancellation charges are basically what is monies due on your contract should you have seen it out to the end which obviously could not be given to you until the date of your leaving is known and how long you still have to run.
You will also be charged the cost of any equipment BT supplied.
They are set out here.
New customers always get the best deals from all the ISPs. When your contract with Virgin is finished check out the new customer deals with BT and you may find that it is worth moving from Virgin back to BT.
Follow-up. A few days after signing up with Vodafone I had a call from a very nice BT person from a "new" group looking at BT customer retention. I explained the history of why I was unhappy with BT and he indicated that the first customer rep I had talked to should not be seen as representative of BT. Over the course of about twenty minutes he offered, subject to me staying with BT, to supply the latest hub free of charge (as I had asked the original rep) , to raise an internal complaint on the original rep, to match and then better the monthly offer from VF - halving the rate that I am now paying BT. Out of a matter of principal I declined but pointed out that this was the conversation I was anticipating when I first asked for help. Had the original rep dealt with me more sympathetically, I would probably have signed up at the current (hi) monthly rate rather than seeking an alternative supplier. I really wish that the suppliers would regard customer retention as a realistic part of their business plan rather than simply trying to get new customers and fleece existing ones relying on "change hysteresis" to minimise churn. I don't want to have the hassle of going around playing the field every 12-18 months and I can't see how the additional support overhead is good business for the operators.