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Time to haggle: loyal TV & broadband customers lose out on £700

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Loyal customers who sign up for a combined broadband and TV packages can face a so-called ‘loyalty penalty’ of up to £690 per year, research has shown.

Consumer group Which? found that 40% of consumers who sign up to dual or triple play (where a phone line is included) bundle and stay with the same provider for more than 10 years may end up overpaying by huge sums.

For example, Which? spoke to Sky customers who had not attempted to haggle and found they were paying £1,050 a year on average.

After analysing new deals available on the market, Which? found the cheapest combined package was the Sky ‘Broadband + Entertainment’ bundle available for £30 a month, totalling £360 a year. This equates to a difference of £690 a year.

Even customers who opted for a premium package, which includes faster broadband and extra channels, paid £780 per year, some £270 less than loyal customers paid on average.

Loyalty penalty

It was a similar story at Virgin Media, where loyal customers paid an average of £960 a year for a broadband and TV bundle. This was some £576 more each year than the provider’s basic ‘Player’ bundle, which is available for £32 a month or £384 a year.

A Virgin Media ‘VIP’ bundle, which includes access to both Sky Sports and Sky Cinema, costs £948 for new customers. This comes in lower than the average price that existing loyal customers paid across all package levels.

In comparison, BT customers surveyed by Which? paid an average of £720 a year for their broadband and TV bundle. However, a ‘Classic’ bundle for new customers cost a little under £480 a year – coming in £240 cheaper.

A ‘Max HD BT’ package, which includes sports and extra channels, also costs just under £600, which is still £120 lower.

The survey of 3,131 Which? members found that close to 40% of consumers had been with their provider for at least 10 years. Virgin Media had the most loyal customers with six in 10 staying with them for 10 years plus, which compares to 30% of Sky’s customers and 25% of BT’s customers.

Overall, 77% said they had stayed with their provider for at least three years.

Demand a discount

Which? found that loyal customers who haggled with their provider received discounts. At BT, the average customer saved an average of £210 per year, while this fell to £180 for Virgin Media and £120 for Sky.

With this in mind, Which? is urging consumers who are unhappy to take control and switch to a better deal.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services,explained:“Yet again we’ve found that loyalty doesn’t pay when it comes to your broadband and TV service. People will choose their provider often because of a cheap introductory deal and then stay for the content offering.

“However, you shouldn’t accept getting a bad deal. There are potential savings to be made for those who take the time to haggle and even bigger savings for those who switch.”