Can I leave my broadband contract early?

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If your broadband connection doesn’t meet your requirements anymore, or you’re unhappy with the service you’re receiving, then you may be considering leaving your contract early and switching to a new broadband deal

Does this sound like you? Well, the good news is that leaving your contract early is possible. However, the bad news is that it can be costly if you don’t meet the criteria for leaving without paying a penalty. 

In this handy guide, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about the process of ending a broadband contract. This way, you can assess whether it really is the right decision for you.

Can you cancel a broadband contract early? 

Yes. But you’ll usually need to pay an early exit fee or a cancellation fee. Sadly, this isn’t a fixed cost and the amount you’ll need to pay will depend on your specific provider and their cancellation policy. 

As you signed a contract promising to pay your provider a fixed amount of money for a certain number of months, some providers will ask you to pay the full amount owed. So, if you pay £25 per month for your broadband and you have six months left, you’ll need to pay £150 to end your contract. 

Other providers ask for a percentage of the balance to be paid upfront, while some charge a reduced fee per month of the contract left. The amount you’ll need to pay to leave your deal early will be detailed in your contract’s terms and conditions. 

It’s also important to know that some providers will ask you to return your equipment. If you don’t, you’ll need to pay an additional penalty. For example, if you’re with EE and you don’t return your equipment, you’ll be charged an additional £175. 

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Can I get out of my contract without paying? 

Maybe. In some limited circumstances, it is possible to leave without paying a penalty or cancellation fee. This applies if you’re in the cooling-off period, your contract has expired, your provider isn’t meeting the required minimum standards, or you haven’t been informed about an above-inflation price change. 

You’re in the cooling-off period 

A cooling-off period is a set amount of time a broadband provider gives you to change your mind about the product. This is usually 14 days, although certain providers such as Sky Broadband provide you with 31 days. 

However, although you can cancel for free during your cooling-off period, your rights may be affected if you’ve used the connection. Plus, if you made your purchase in person, you don’t have the same legal rights and you may be subject to a charge. 

Your contract has expired

You can, however, change providers without charge if your contract has expired. When you take out a broadband deal, you usually sign a contract that lasts for either 12, 18 or 24 months. This is the minimum term for the deal and, after this time, you can leave without paying a penalty. 

If your contract has expired, you should switch providers using the widget at the base of this guide. This is because the majority of the deals listed will save you money. However, before you make the switch, check the fine print in your current contract, as some companies will put you on a rolling contract following the end of your minimum term. As a result, you may need to give notice of cancellation. This can be up to 30 days. 

If you’re still within the contract but don’t have long to go, then make a note of the date your contract is due to end. This way, you can switch just before this date and leave at the earliest possible point without paying fees. It always pays to change your provider when your contract ends, so don’t miss out!

Your provider isn’t meeting minimum standards 

Your provider should have outlined the minimum broadband speeds you could expect to receive in your contract. 

If the speeds you receive fall below this and your provider is signed up to Ofcom’s Code of Practice, then your provider must fix the issue within one month. 

If they can’t resolve the issue and provide the minimum speeds you were promised, you’re entitled to cancel your broadband contract without paying early termination fees.

Similarly, you can also leave your contract if your provider is unable to solve a fault that’s affecting the service you’re receiving. That said, sometimes leaving a provider because of this is easier said than done. 

As a result, you should always record any outages you experience during your contract, and phone your provider every time the problem occurs. Even if it’s not helpful in solving the fault, you’ll then have a record of these phone calls, which can be used as evidence in your complaint.

If you believe that your provider isn’t holding up their end of the contract but they won’t let you leave without paying a penalty, then you can contact either the Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) or the Communications Ombudsman.

Your provider changed the price without notifying you 

Unfortunately, providers are legally allowed to increase prices mid-contract in line with inflation rates and it has become increasingly common for providers to include annual price rises within their contracts. 

That said, a few providers don't have price hikes covered in their contracts. So, it's still worth checking your contract to see if you can cancel penalty-free.

Similarly, if the price hike is higher than the annual inflation rate and isn’t mentioned in your contract, Ofcom rules state that you’re allowed to cancel your existing contract within 30 days of being notified, without paying an early exit fee.

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How do I find out how much it will cost me to cancel my broadband contract? 

The easiest way to find out how much it will cost to cancel your broadband contract is to speak to your provider directly. We’d usually recommend speaking to them about this over the phone if possible, as you may be able to haggle. Following this, your provider may offer to switch you to a better-priced package or one that is more suited to your needs. 

However, you should be aware that if you take out a new deal with your provider, you’ll need to sign a new contract with them. 

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Is it worth cancelling my contract early? 

Maybe. We know that’s non-committal. But, the honest answer is ‘it depends how long you have left on your contract and how much it will cost you’.

For example, if you have 12 months left on your deal and you pay £30 per month for your broadband, then you may need to pay £360 to cancel your contract if your provider doesn't offer a reduced cancellation rate. This is incredibly expensive. 

However, if you only have three months left, you’ll only need to pay £90. You may even be able to pay less than this if your provider charges a reduced fee per month. If this is the case, you may be able to save more than this by switching provider. As a result, in this instance, it would be worth paying the early exit penalties. 

To decide whether it’s worth switching early, you first need to contact your provider and find out how much it will cost you. Then, use the comparison tool below to see how much you could save by making the switch. This way, you can make an informed decision based on your personal circumstances. 

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Tom Brook

Tom is a freelance copywriter and content marketer with over seven years' experience. Originally from an agency background, he is proud to have worked on campaigns for a number of energy providers, comparison sites and consumer brands.