Email Address Charges Branded ‘Daylight Robbery’

Ofcom is writing to broadband companies to ask why some people are having to pay to keep old email addresses.  TalkTalk charges £5 a month and BT charges £7.50 a month if customers switch providers but want to keep using their email addresses as before.  Virgin deletes those it gives to customers 90 days after they leave, but Sky lets people keep theirs for free.  Ofcom told Radio 4’s Money Box it could see no reason for what one customer called “basically daylight robbery”.

Ofcom added: “We’re looking at this to consider whether we need to step in and take action.”  As the UK’s four big providers, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin supply 90% of the UK’s net-using homes with broadband.  Money Box spoke to one customer who has paid £260 to keep an old address during the three years since switching from BT.

It’s a similar story for Wendy Small, from Bookham in Surrey, who’s been charged £160 since leaving BT for another provider two years ago.  “It started at £5 per month when we switched in January 2018. They increased that to £7.50 per month in October 2018 and we’ve been paying that since then.  “I think it’s basically daylight robbery and it doesn’t help incentivise people to switch provider.  If you’re switching to save money, but then you suddenly find that you’re going to have to pay to keep your email address so you don’t have the inconvenience of changing everything that’s linked to your email address and it’s going to cost you up to £7.50 per month, then those savings disappear.  I think that Ofcom should be taking action and look at the wider practice in the sector.  If the sector refuses to change its practices, I think Ofcom should be stepping in to regulate.”

BT says people can keep their email addresses for free using a basic service that’s only accessible via a browser, but that customers who want to maintain their normal email service, they have to pay £7.50 per month.  An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We can’t see a reason why you should have to pay these amounts to keep your email address. So we’re looking at this to consider whether we need to step in and take action.”

Source:  (BBC Website;  February 2020).  

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