If you're fed up with slow broadband, don't be hasty and switch providers. Good deals are there for the taking, if you know the right keys to hit, says Alison Brace
Do you ever wonder why your computer is so s-l-o-w? If so, check with your broadband contract then see how long you have been with your provider and what speed of service you signed up to.
According to the comparison website moneysupermarket.com, 65 per cent of broadband users are still with their first provider. If you signed up in 2003 you would have been lucky to get a speed of 0.5 megabytes - whereas speed of up to 8MB is now the norm. And during that time, monthly charges halved.
uSwitch, another leading comparison website, estimates nearly 10 million broadband users are overpaying for their service - and collectively wasting up to pound;621 million a year. Not switching supplier when fixed contracts come to an end is costing three out of four customers more than pound;13 million.
Jason Lloyd, head of broadband for www.moneysupermarket.com, recommends checking with comparison websites and then contacting your provider.
"Rather than just switching, the best deals are often with your existing provider," he says. "Once you're armed with information you can say, 'Look, I can get this for this price'. All broadband companies have monthly retention targets, which means a certain percentage of customers must not leave in a given month. This means they offer amazing deals which aren't advertised."
However, if you do decide to switch, check that your fixed contract is up or you might be liable to a cancellation fee which can amount to your monthly subscription for the remainder of the contract.
What we do online:
nine out of 10 of us shop - evenly split between men and women
four out of 10 download music. The same number listen to radio online
eight out of 10 bank online
more than a third of women play games on line,compared with a quarter of men
one in six make phone calls over the internet
Supplier Monthly cost
AOL pound;14.99 up to 2MB speed, no cap
BT pound;17.991 up to 8MB speed, 5GB cap
Orange pound;14.99 up to 2MB speed, 2GB cap
Tiscali pound;14.99 2MB speed, no cap
Virgin Media (previously ntl: pound;102, pound;25 installation fee
Telewest and Virgin.net) up to 2MB speed, no cap
1. pound;9.95 per month for first 6 months, 18 month contract
2. Price valid until 31032007. Standard price is pound;18 per month