Four ways mobile, TV and broadband firms including Sky and Vodafone should help if you can't pay your bill

BROADBAND, mobile and TV companies have pledged to help customers struggling due to the financial impact of coronavirus – we round-up what's being offered.

BT, EE, Gigaclear, Hyperoptic, KCOM, O2, Openreach, Sky, TalkTalk, Three, Virgin Media, and Vodafone have all pledged to the government and the telecoms watchdog to treat struggling customers fairly and to offer them support during the crisis.

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But while these providers have all agreed to certain measures it's mostly down to individual firms to decide what help to offer.

Charity Citizens Advice says this is likely to come in four forms: lower bills, more time to pay, increasing your allowances, and moving you to a better contract.

It adds that if you’re a customer of a different provider, you should still ask if it can help.

If it refuses, use a comparison site, such as BroadbandChoices, to check if you save by switching elsewhere.

Which telecoms providers have agreed to help customers?

HERE'S which telecoms firms have agreed with both the government and Ofcom to help customers affected by coronavirus:

  • BT
  • EE
  • Gigaclear
  • Hyperoptic
  • KCOM
  • O2
  • Openreach
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Three
  • Virgin Media
  • Vodafone

Telecoms regulator Ofcom reckons the average broadband customer could save around £100 a year by switching, though some could save £150 or more.

Meanwhile, mobile users could save £75 a year on average by switching to cheaper Sim-only deals, although again, some could save as much as £150.

If you don't want to switch and save or it's not worthwhile because you're mid-contract and you'll be stung with hefty early exit fees, check if your current provider will offer any help as outlined below.

Reduce your bill

If you're struggling, your telecoms provider might pause or freeze payments for a few months or allow you to pay a reduced amount for now.

It's up to providers what help to offer so contact yours to ask.

Customers with BT Sport and Sky Sports, for example, have been allowed to pause payments while there's no live sport or get a refund or bill credit of unused months on subscriptions already paid for.

What you'll be offered depends on your provider – see our BT Sport and Sky Sports refunds story for more information.

Give you more time to pay

Offering more time to pay isn't something that's being offered as standard, but it's worth contacting your provider if you need longer to pay bills.

You might, for example, have been furloughed and on less pay currently but you're hoping to restart work on your full wages soon – in which case explain this to your provider.

Increase your data or download limit

As part of the government's agreement all of the providers listed above have removed data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.

This means you won't be charged or prevented from exceeding your broadband data allowance.

And some providers are going above and beyond this too.

Sky Mobile customers, for example, have all been given 10GB of free data, while Virgin Mobile has given pay monthly customers unlimited minutes to landlines and other mobile numbers, plus a 10GB data boost until May 22.

Virgin Media has also boosted broadband speeds for some users as well giving free access to certain subscription TV channels.

Other providers, such as EE and Vodafone, have boosted packages for NHS workers.

Contact your provider to find out if you can boost your package for free.

Move you to a contract that suits your needs better

As part of the agreement with Ofcom and the government all providers listed above have agreed to offer new, generous mobile and landline packages to ensure people stay connected and the most vulnerable don't lose out.

Some of these packages include data boosts at low prices and free calls from landlines or mobile.

Contact your provider to ask what's available and how much it will cost.

You should also use a comparison service such as Billmonitor which will scour the market for mobile deals based on your current usage to check you can't save more by switching.

See how to get help paying your bills, rent or mortgage for more information.

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