Internet and mobile communications providers use bait and switch offers to attract new customers. Those who take advantage can make big savings. Existing customers are usually left out in the cold.
How nice it is to be a new customer: 150 euros instant bonus, free router and free months. Customers can find such offers for telephone and Internet when they switch providers. That’s why it can be worthwhile for existing customers to terminate their current contracts.
But mobile customers who are willing to switch providers often receive bonuses and premiums if they sign a contract with a competitor. So it pays to switch providers regularly, as consumer advocates never tire of recommending. And indeed, providers grant their new customers high discounts, especially for such contracts, confirms Jan Wieseke, Professor of Sales Management at the Ruhr University in Bochum.
More expensive for existing customers after two years
In the first two contract years, many prices for the Internet, telephone or cell phone are discounted, knows Arne Düsterhöft from the consumer portal Finanztip. Only afterwards it becomes more expensive. The calculation behind it: “The providers hope that customers will stay as long as possible, because the expense of switching seems too high to them or they have forgotten about the contract after two years.”
Those who have had their contract for years should definitely take another look around the market. “Prices have dropped significantly with the technical development of the cell phone network or the contracts offer more performance,” says Düsterhöft and gives an example: If an all-net flat rate in the D network of Vodafone or Telekom still cost an average of 30 euros seven years ago, such a contract can be had for as little as 8 euros today, he says.
But if you don’t move, you continue to pay the old high price. Cancellation and new contracts are quite simple, and many things can be done online with just a few clicks. Every provider must show the exact cancellation period on the bill. The consumer advice centers even recommend leaving the cancellation to the new mobile provider.
For Internet and telephone, a maximum of one day’s downtime
The expense is somewhat higher for fixed-line phone or Internet: It may be necessary for a technician to come. However, not much can happen when switching. Companies are obliged to ensure that telephone, mobile communications or Internet services are not interrupted for more than one day.
However, this often doesn’t work out, as a survey conducted by the Schleswig-Holstein consumer center in 2019 showed: Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reported that their provider had broken the daily deadline when they switched.
This could improve in the future. Since the amendment to the Telecommunications Act, which came into force at the beginning of December 2021, consumers have been entitled to compensation in such cases. The same applies if the number portability does not work right away.
Save up to 200 euros in one fell swoop
“If the change sounds like too much effort, you should calculate your hourly wage,” says Düsterhöft. “It’s phenomenal. You can easily save 100 to 200 euros with a single contract change.” And that’s in one fell swoop. And whoever likes this view better: purely arithmetically, the monthly bill is 4 to 8 euros lower compared to the non-discounted rate.
So: Loyalty doesn’t pay off when it comes to telephone and Internet contracts. It’s different in other industries, Prof. Wieseke knows: “Existing customers have better cards when they meet salespeople, such as in furniture stores or jewelry stores. They are more likely to grant discounts to loyal customers, because there it pays off over the customer’s lifetime if they keep coming back.”
Nevertheless, even loyal customers should not put up with excessively high prices. They have a trump card up their sleeve: cancellation – or at least the threat of it. Providers are often willing to win back their existing customers with discounts in such a case. And since the beginning of December 2021, customers have been able to use this leverage at any time.
Cancelling contracts on a monthly basis
This is because, after the initially agreed contract term of usually two years, telecommunications contracts may only be extended by one month, as stipulated by the new Telecommunications Act. This applies to new contracts, but also to existing contracts.
Also interesting: What’s changing now for cell phone and Internet contracts
In addition, providers are now obliged to inform their existing customers once a year what the optimum rate is for them, measured against the current rate. This is intended to prevent existing customers from remaining on expensive tariffs, even though more favorable conditions have long been available from the same provider and it would be easy to switch.