Why are we so hung up about changing our old phone deal?

Millions of us are still engaged to BT, says Melanie Bien, but the savings could be huge if we switched to a new call supplier

It may be good to talk but it's even better to save money while you're having a natter. Yet while many of us have worked out the savings to be made by switching gas and electricity supplier, few of us have bothered to change our home telephone provider.

It may be good to talk but it's even better to save money while you're having a natter. Yet while many of us have worked out the savings to be made by switching gas and electricity supplier, few of us have bothered to change our home telephone provider.

Around three-quarters of households still rely on BT to provide their telephone calls, and around 63 per cent of these customers have been with the provider for more than 10 years, even though competition for our telephone calls is fierce.

However, with savings of up to 70 per cent to be made if you can put in around 10 minutes' work establishing the best supplier and tariff for your needs - says Save Money Now, the online price-comparison service - it could be well worth the effort.

"Many people wouldn't dream of booking a holiday or buying a hi-fi system without shopping around, yet few apply the same consideration when choosing a telephone provider - despite it being more expensive in the long term," says Ian El-Mokadem, managing director of communications company One.Tel.

Since carrier pre-select (CPS) was introduced in 2001 - removing the need to dial a prefix or install a dial-up box in your home - the number of alternative providers to BT has rocketed. Hundreds of operators have set up interconnecting telecommunications networks, spawning a huge number of resellers who use these networks to route calls.

At the last estimate, there were more than 1,000 operators and resellers, so there's a decent chance you will find a better phone deal.

Unfortunately, many people believe that switching is complicated, time consuming and pointless because they won't save money. Yet the process is simple and free: you pick a new provider, tell them you want to transfer and they do the rest.

You keep your BT line and pay the normal rental charge - with the call charges going to your new provider, such as One.Tel, Just Dial, Talk Talk or Tele2. Switching to a new telephone supplier can take up to 21 days, although it is usually completed within two weeks.

The hardest bit is deciding which provider to transfer to. With so many combinations of tariffs and offers, it can be hard to figure out what you need and how much it will cost.

Most communication providers offer three or more tariffs (basic plans) which are bundled with additional plans for calls to international destinations and mobile phones. Some providers also offer call-circle plans (friends and family) for discounts on special destination numbers.

Basic plans are either free (with all the calls chargeable) or attract a monthly subscription in exchange for a set amount of free call minutes.

BT offers three basic plans, two of them subscription based with free local or national calls during off-peak or peak hours. Calls to mobile phones are charged at a uniform rate.

BT also offers a choice between the standard calling rate for international destinations and an optional, chargeable discount international plan. There is also a friends and family, call-circle plan, offering a 10 per cent discount on specific destinations.

While this array of choice may be confusing, it's nowhere near as complicated as the combinations on offer at Caudwell Communications. This company offers the HomeCall brand of services with access to four basic plans, which can be coupled with one of six mobile call plans and five international plans. This means there are a mind-boggling 90 different tariff combinations.

Picking the best carrier and most suitable tariff deal can be daunting, but the easiest way of comparing what's available is to use an independent price-comparison website. Uswitch.com is the only one recommended by Ofcom, the regulator for the UK communications industry. It is also worth trying unravelit.com, which recently launched detailed price comparisons. After using the service, one unravelit.com user is making an annual saving of £200 thanks to a switch from BT to One.Tel.

"There are over 20 different variables that determine the cost of the call, such as the duration, the destination and the time of day," says Florian Ritzmann, the commercial manager of unravelit.com.

"It is ironic that the complexity of choice serves as a perverse barrier to switching, but we believe we have now made that process very easy."

If you log on to one of the comparison websites, you will be asked several questions about your current usage, such as how long your calls tend to take, when you make them and the destination of those calls. The service will then work out the cheapest deal for you.

There is no obligation to switch, but if you want to, you complete the form online. The comparison service sends your details to the new provider, which handles the switch automatically at the telephone exchange.

You will receive more than one bill: one from BT for the line rental and the other from your new call provider. But this is a small inconvenience if the switch results in big savings. There are plans for the introduction of a line rental scheme for telecoms firms later this year, so BT customers will be billed for their line by their new provider.

For a free, step-by-step factsheet to switching, log on to www.onetel.co.uk/switch

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn