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Standard User meditator
(fountain of knowledge) Tue 24-Jan-17 15:30:37
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Leaving ISP for another: has ISP the right to levy charges?


[link to this post]
 
Under Ofcom's new rules for migrating to a different ISP for broadband services, I've now arranged a move, and the technical changes by Openreach for that will happen, so I'm told by the gaining ISP, in 10 days from now. It'll include swapping to FTTC from ADSL, as well as the new FTTC service becoming an annual contract.

I expected to hear from the losing ISP but after not getting any reaction decided to inform the current (losing ISP) myself instead, which I duly did by e-mail. They've since agreed that the current ADSL account with them will be terminated on the required date.

I've been with the losing ISP for a good many years and so lost touch with their T&Cs, so have just looked them up. Aside from the fact that the T&Cs refer throughout to MAC codes and also seem to presume that all BB accounts are annual ones, I was horrified to see the following terms relating to cancellation of accounts (I've selected the relevant bits):

"All Services including Broadband & Telephone Line cancellations & outbound migrations during the contract term will incur a cancellation penalty charged at 100% of the monthly recurring charge for each remaining month of the contract period plus £85.10 + VAT to cover XXXXXXX's liabilities to third party providers.

Any Broadband Service which is terminated is subject to a cessation charge of £31.12 + VAT, payable prior to the termination.

We will allow you to migrate away or cancel your service upon expiry of the contract term and upon settlement of all outstanding charges.

We will allow you to migrate away your Broadband and/or telephone Service(s) to another service provider or cancel services entirely during your contract period but you will be liable for cancellation charges.

This Contract may be terminated by either party on giving at least 30 day’s notice to the other expiring on the last day of the minimum Contract term or at any time thereafter. If XXXXXXX gives notice you shall pay all charges up to the expiry of the notice. If you give notice, you shall pay all charges until 30 days after the date XXXXXXX receives the notice or until expiry of the notice, whichever is the latter. Your notice does not avoid any other liability for Service already provided."

Any notice of termination of service must comply with XXXXXXX and be in writing including your account username, name & address sent by either royal mail first or second class to xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Xxxxxx will not accept telephone or email terminations as identity & delivery cannot be guaranteed.


In the context of my move to an alternative ISP, are these conditions, and therefore exit charges, valid? I thought that migration was free, under the new Ofcom rules? Does the losing ISP have the right to charge me £85 + VAT, plus a further £31 + VAT, because I have decided to move to a different service provider? Because, like many BB users, I pay my monthly fees to them by direct debit (and in advance), they would have the means to extract these charges via that DD.

As it stands at present, the losing ISP isn't being co-operative over the cancelling of the DD in due course. They use an agent to deal with users' monthly/annual payments and claim that they have no mechanism for requesting the agent to stop taking the direct debits from the requisite date. This is clearly nonsense, as the very least they have is a telephone or e-mail with which to do it. Unfortunately, the agent's website has no means for end-customers like me to contact them, only businesses. I'm presuming, anyway, that the regular DD could only be stopped by the ISP requesting the agent to do so, not me. I think my bank would say the same.

I've asked the losing ISP to inform me of any outstanding payments/fees due, but they've not commented to me at all in that respect.

Edited by meditator (Tue 24-Jan-17 15:45:33)

Standard User ian72
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Tue 24-Jan-17 15:45:58
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Re: Leaving ISP for another: has ISP the right to levy charg


[re: meditator] [link to this post]
 
Short answer - yes they can if it is in your Ts&Cs.

However, you should be in a rolling monthly minimum term if you haven't had any special deals or recontracted in the last year so the per month fee for remaining contract should not be relevant.

The £31 according to those terms should only be charged if you cease your broadband not if you migrate. BT charge for a cease. This does get slightly confused if you are migrating to/from an LLU provider as there can be a cease charge levied on the previous provider by BT.

Has the ISP actually told you there are going to be charges? From what you have said I assume they haven't.

When you informed the old provider you were very clear you were migrating the account and not ceasing it? If you said you were ceasing then they may well terminate your circuit, charge you a fee and you will be left with no service to migrate requiring you to start from scratch with a new ISP. If you told them you were migrating then all is more than likely going to be fine.
Standard User WilliamGrimsley
(regular) Tue 24-Jan-17 16:01:35
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Re: Leaving ISP for another: has ISP the right to levy charg


[re: ian72] [link to this post]
 
But, surely if Ofcom have set those rules then every ISP has to cooperate by them otherwise they'd be breaking them. Or, are Ofcom now taking a back seat and just allowing ISP's do what they like? I'd hope and think not.

Edited by WilliamGrimsley (Tue 24-Jan-17 16:02:06)


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Standard User ian72
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Tue 24-Jan-17 16:07:58
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Re: Leaving ISP for another: has ISP the right to levy charg


[re: WilliamGrimsley] [link to this post]
 
I am not aware of any Ofcom rule that says a provider cannot charge you for leaving them, especially if you are in a minimum contract term. The provider can't stop you from leaving but I believe they can levy charges which are owed under their Ts&Cs.

Edited by ian72 (Tue 24-Jan-17 16:13:26)

Standard User meditator
(fountain of knowledge) Tue 24-Jan-17 16:10:51
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Re: Leaving ISP for another: has ISP the right to levy charg


[re: ian72] [link to this post]
 
Wow, thanks for the prompt response, ian72.

"yes they can if it is in your Ts&Cs".

Hmm, okay. I interpret your second paragraph to mean that if termination occurs part way through a month, say, they'd require to be paid in settlement for the whole of that month. No other services are being provided at present, BTW. If so, then that would not seem unreasonable. I've already told them that I'm perfectly willing to pay the ending month in full, even offering to pay them by cheque if necessary, but they've declined to comment.

When I contacted them about the move I specifically used the phraseology "terminate my ADSL account, including the e-mail service". I deliberately avoided the term "cease", because as you say that means something different. They admitted they'd seen new information on the so-called tags checker.

So, the answer to your question is No, they've not as yet told me there are going to be charges, but I'd have thought that the least they would have mentioned would be a need to settle a full month's payment (if you see what I mean). Instead, silence.

I hope you're correct and that the lack of co-operation from them at present isn't an indicator of something more foreboding.

Incidentally, do you think I'm correct about the DD mechanism - that it's up to them to cancel the arrangement, not me? If me, how do I do it?

Edited by meditator (Tue 24-Jan-17 16:15:44)

Standard User ian72
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Tue 24-Jan-17 16:18:21
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Re: Leaving ISP for another: has ISP the right to levy charg


[re: meditator] [link to this post]
 
Ideally you wouldn't say terminate either - it is normally easiest if you don't talk to them at all but if you do only ever say migrate not cease or terminate.

Normal notice would be 30 days and so at the least you would expect to pay 30 days notice period (not just the remained of the month) but some ISPs only charge up to the cease date.

Some info on ISP Review as to the process (I am assuming their info is correct) here.

Step 6 of the new process:

6. The losing provider sends out a similar switching letter to the customer, albeit one that includes information about any exit fees or other issues that may impact your service (e.g. the possible need to return your old ISPs bundled broadband router)


However, the process may not apply to your ISP who I am guessing is Vispa - I am not 100% sure if the Ofcom code covered ALL ISPs or just the major ones.
Standard User meditator
(fountain of knowledge) Tue 24-Jan-17 16:57:31
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Re: Leaving ISP for another: has ISP the right to levy charg


[re: ian72] [link to this post]
 
Yes, I'd already seen that ISP-Review article and ISP-Review's published procedure. As the end-customer, I tried to follow that procedure but the latter broke down because, after requesting the gaining ISP for an account and being subsequently supplied with the changeover date and other pertinent information, I then heard absolutely nothing from the losing ISP. Time being of the essence, I wasn't just going to wait around, and after consulting the gaining ISP and them saying that there was nothing in the new rules stipulating that they had to officially inform the losing ISP, I decided to take the initiative and notify the losing ISP myself.

It might be that the losing ISP's T&Cs are outdated and no longer have any weight, but if so why are they still being displayed on their website? If those T&Cs are at all still relevant, then I suppose I should have given the losing ISP at least one month's notice of my intention. However, there's no mention in Ofcom's rules about needing to do that. It's all supposed to be a process that should not take more than 10 days to complete.

It seems to me that there's still considerable confusion among ISPs and users alike over the new migration rules. It's been over 18 months now since they were introduced by Ofcom. Among ISPs, can't see why there should be any exemptions from the rules. The idea was to make for easier migration and greater clarity, but exemptions would surely mitigate against that?
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Tue 24-Jan-17 17:26:06
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Re: Leaving ISP for another: has ISP the right to levy charg


[re: meditator] [link to this post]
 
When you said you heard nothing, did the gaining ISP actually place the order as a migration? If they did not then this can cause confusion.

Also how long between ordering and contacting the losing ISP was there?

It is likely that your contact has set the wheels in motion for a cease, and thus triggers the page leaving fee clauses (which are allowed), the ideal would have been to chase the gaining ISP to discover why they've informed the losing provider (in a number of cases this has been down to them doing something funky with the orders)

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User meditator
(fountain of knowledge) Tue 24-Jan-17 18:53:38
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Re: Leaving ISP for another: has ISP the right to levy charg


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
I can't be 100% certain of that, for obvious reasons. In my ordering placed with the gaining ISP, I pointed out who my existing ISP was and that my account with that ISP would be ceasing from (more or less) the end of January (the new service is due to go live on 3rd February). Other emails have gone between me and the gainer in the meantime, with me often mentioning migration, so I've assumed that the gainer has understood that it is indeed migration and not a total take-down of the entire connection. The gainer has apparently been using the 'tag information'.

There were approximately 4 days between ordering and my contacting the loser. I only did the latter because, in my interpretation of the Ofcom rules, I'd expected the gainer to contact the loser instead. But on that 4th day the gainer told me that they were not obliged to do that.

I'll now double-check that the gainer has put through the correct sort of order, but I suspect they have.
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Tue 24-Jan-17 19:11:30
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Re: Leaving ISP for another: has ISP the right to levy charg


[re: meditator] [link to this post]
 
Aha

a) No need to point out who the old provider is, the systems handle all this
b) Mentioning old ISP was ceasing, may have led them to order a provide rather than a migration
c) If things started of as a cease, switching to migration is difficult, only safe route at that point is cancel everything and stay with existing provider and hope the cease does not actually happen, i.e. gets cancelled
d) Who was the gainer, as if this is a migration that is between two services where standard migration rules apply then they are meant to submit things as a migration to the wholesaler thus triggering the migration mechanism.
e) If gainer had just through a migration, wholesaler would have been notified and a contact to the losing ISP made (retailer ISP may be unaware of who this is at all) and the loser would notifty, usually within a few days, so it may be that 4 days was too soon to panic, but panicking has caused issues.

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
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