Cancelling a phone, TV, internet or mobile contract
You should check the terms and conditions of your contract to find out what your cancellation rights are.
You might be legally entitled to cancel the contract without a fee if either:
you signed up less than 14 days ago - this is called a ‘cooling off period’
the price of your contract is going up and your provider has given you 30 days to cancel without a fee
there’s a problem with your internet speed
your contract was for a certain length of time and has expired - for example, an 18-month mobile phone contract
If none of these apply, you probably can't cancel the contract without having to pay a fee.
If you’re cancelling your contract to get a better deal, check what you should consider before you switch.
If you signed up less than 14 days ago
Your legal right to cancel the contract for free depends on whether you signed up over the phone, in person, or online.
If you signed up over the phone or online
You can cancel the contract for free if you signed up less than 14 days ago over the phone or online. This is called a ‘cooling-off’ period. If you’ve already used the service you’re likely to be charged for what you’ve used - for example calls made on a mobile phone.
Contact the business and say you want to cancel the contract because you’re still in the cooling-off period. You’ll probably need to give them details such as your account reference number - check any documents or emails you have from the company.
If you post a letter or send an email asking to cancel within the cooling-off period, the contract will be cancelled from the date you post the letter or send the email. You should send any post by recorded delivery if you can - keep copies of any receipts or emails.
If you signed up in person
You don’t have the legal right to a 14-day cooling-off period if you signed up in person - for example if you met someone from the company and signed a contract. It's worth asking anyway - they might let you cancel if you explain how your circumstances have changed.
If the price has gone up
You should check the terms and conditions you agreed to when you signed up for your contract. Most contracts come with terms and conditions that say your provider can increase the price each year - either by a set amount, or an amount linked to inflation.
If your terms and conditions don’t say your provider can increase the price each year, your provider should give you 30 days’ notice before putting up the price of your contract. You have the legal right to cancel the contract within those 30 days without having to pay a fee. Contact the company and say you’re cancelling within the allowed 30 days’ notice of a price increase.
You won’t be able to cancel without a fee if either:
you signed up to the contract before 23 January 2014, or
you were told at the start of the contract that the price would be going up, for example if you signed up for a 18 month contract but the first 3 months were at a discounted rate
your terms and conditions say your provider can put the price of your contract up each year
If your internet is slow
Check your internet, sometimes called 'broadband', speed using Ofcom’s speed checker and make a note of the results.
What you can do next depends on when your contract started.
If your contract started on or after 1 March 2019
Ask your provider for the Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed (MGALS) for your line.
If your internet is slower than the MGALS
First, check if your provider has signed up to the New Voluntary Codes of Practice on Broadband Speed on the Ofcom website.
If your provider has signed up, contact them and give them your results from the speed checker. They'll have 1 month to fix the problem.
You can cancel your contract without paying a fee if they can’t fix the problem, then you can switch to a new internet provider.
If you have a deal that includes your TV, mobile or home phone you can switch them at the same time without paying a fee.
If your provider hasn’t signed up yet, it’s worth contacting them and letting them know your results from the speed checker. They don’t have to do anything about it but you can try asking for a discount if your broadband is slower than you were told it would be.
If you cancel your contract you might have to pay a fee - you could try asking them to waive the fee, given the poor service you’ve received.
If your internet is faster than the MGALS
You can try asking for a discount if your broadband is faster than the MGALS, but slower than you were told it would be.
Your provider might agree to a discount if you either:
can’t switch to another provider without paying a fee
don’t think you’ll get faster broadband with another provider
If your contract started before 1 March 2019
You can try asking for a discount if your internet is slower than you were told it would be. Contact your provider and let them know your results from the speed checker.
If you cancel your contract you might have to pay a fee - you could ask your provider to waive the fee, given the poor service you’ve received.
You can also try Ofcom’s tips for improving your internet speed.
If you’re moving house
You should check if your provider offers the same service in your new area. If they do, you might have to pay a small fee to move the service to your new address.
You might have to pay a cancellation fee to leave your contract early if:
your provider doesn’t provide the same service in your new area
you’re renting and the service is included in the place you’re moving to but you already have an existing contract for that service - for example internet
It’s worth trying to explain your situation to your provider - they might reduce or remove any fee.
If you’ve been signed up to a service without agreeing
You might have unknowingly entered into a contract and are being charged regularly. This can sometimes happen with promotions or games you sign up for through text messages or mobile apps.
This is called a ‘continuous payment authority’ and can also happen when you sign up for a free trial of something that then starts to cost you money.
The best thing to do is contact your bank to cancel the direct debit or credit card payments.
How to cancel your contract
You will need to contact your provider to cancel your contract - you can do this in any of the following ways:
If your provider isn’t responding, try to contact them in a different way and at a different time. Keep a record of every time you’ve tried to contact them - for example screenshots and phone records.
You should complain to your provider if you’re struggling to contact them. If you haven’t heard back after 8 weeks, you can complain to an ombudsman.
Complaining to an ombudsman
An ombudsman looks into complaints about companies and organisations. They’ll examine the case from both sides to reach a decision they think is fair.
If you’ve complained to your provider and your problem hasn’t been solved, find out how to complain to an ombudsman.
Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone. You can also use an online form.
If you’re in Northern Ireland, contact Consumerline.
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