Energy Price Cap announcement: Watch Martin Lewis explain what it means for your electricity and gas bills this winter
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What I hadn't appreciated until now was that Open Reach makes a one-off charge of £47.50 for assigning the line from one non-BT provider to another. I'm even more surprised to learn that this involves a visit to the local cabinet to make a physical change, and isn't merely someone updating computer records. For switching to BT, the fee was even higher.
The cheapest providers (e.g. www.simpletelecoms.co.uk) pass on this charge as a non-refundable upfront fee that wipes out any monthly savings for the first two years. Other providers (e.g. www.directsavetelecom.co.uk) are only competitive when pre-paying for a full year upfront. In both cases, it seems that your rights to cancel during the 14-day cooling-off period may not cover these "non-refundable" fees.
I have recollection of Ofcom, in the past, pushing the portability of home phone numbers to ensure a fair and competitive market place. Clearly the cost of re-assigning phone numbers has to be funded somehow, but Ofcom could have mandated that this be by a general levy on the domestic phone market. By permitting Open Reach to charge as they do, this effectively operates as a barrier to competition: a high switching cost is always going to wipe out any potential savings from a cheaper provider. It also means there are no incentives for the industry to make the switching process more efficient and less costly.
Does anyone know of any other landline-only providers out there who offer a good deal, even when factoring in any upfront costs?
The Post Office won't offer me any meaningful retention deal, and the impression I formed is that they only do this once they have received the request to switch from the new provider. Anyone any experience of this happening, and any success in then getting a refund of the upfront costs from the new provider?
I also explored the option of adding the landline on to my broadband-only package with Virgin, and was surprised that the increment was no cheaper than what I currently pay to The Post Office.