We're so reliant on broadband that we're stuck with our provider

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We're not shopping around for a cheaper broadband service, because we're too worried about the connection going down during the changeover. A new study has revealed that we're missing out on a shocking average of £118 a year as a result.

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The research, by uSwitch found that 35% of people are afraid to leave their broadband provider, in case the changeover doesn't go as planned, and they end up with a broadband blackout. It means that just one in ten people have switched broadband provider in the past year. Shockingly, a fifth of people haven't switched in the past five years, and more than a third have never changed provider.

It's not surprising that we're so nervous, because we rely so heavily on broadband. A quarter of people use it to work from home, and a third of people under 35 use it for work purposes.

Problems with switching

In most cases we're quite right to suspect that switching will leave us without a connection. Some 55% of switches have a delay in installation - so we spend an average of 1.4 days without the internet. Unfortunately, one in ten people said they spent a week without a connection, and 6% had to wait for three weeks.

The problem is that in most cases there's some sort of installation required to enable us to switch, and something can go awry as a result. When uSwitch asked what caused the delay in their connection, 17% of people blamed engineer delays, 12% said it was an Openreach engineer who caused the issue, 8% blamed an administrative error, 7% said cables needed to be laid, 5% said the router wasn't working, and 3% said the router was lost in the post.

But while our reluctance is understandable, it means we're missing out on an average saving of £118 a year - and up to £227 per year.

What can we do?

uSwitch is calling for customers to be compensated for any dates they are stuck without a connection, but while we wait for fairness in the industry, we don't have to stick with an expensive or disappointing provider.

Switching simply requires a bit of planning. Almost a third of people who had a gap in service said their broadband switch date wasn't delayed, and their wait was standard, so most people will have an idea of the kind of gap they will need to breach. For those with no warning, they can still put fallback solutions in place.

If we have to spend a day or two without the internet, perhaps we could go into work - which is what 16% of people end up doing. Alternatively we can ask a friend or neighbour if we can work at their house for the day. If we are expecting to be without the internet for longer, we have a few other options. Some 11% of those who need to bridge a gap buy a dongle, 11% tether their smartphone, 12% work at the library, 11% work at a cafe, and 5% pay for BT Wi-Fi.

But what do you think? Is it worth a few days of inconvenience to save up to £227 a year - or does your family go into meltdown if they have to survive five minutes without a connection? Let us know in the comments.

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Most outrageous bill mistakes
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Most outrageous bill mistakes
Carol Sandford, 72, called 118 118 from her mobile phone unaware of the charges involved. Calls to the number cost £1.88 per call and there is also a £2.57 per minute charge from landlines. TalkTalk raises this to £5.68 for the first minute and £3.28 per minute after that. TalkTalk told Carol the charge £81.12 charge was correct but luckily 118 118 were kinder, offering to repay the charge in full. Read the full story here.
One Londoner was more than a little confused when his debit card was declined while he was trying to buy just six bottles of American craft beers. But he quickly realised that instead of the £22.30 he owed, he had been charged £223,000! It's thought he punched in the PIN number before the machine was ready and it added the numbers to the total. Luckily the 28-year-old saw the funny side and laughed the incident off. Read more on the story here.

Early Lewis from Detroit was amazed to find his water bill was almost 100 times as much as he was expecting. The bill claimed that Lewis had used 3,740 gallons of water in just one hour. Thankfully common sense prevailed and the Water and Sewage Department admitted it was a mistake and subsequently charged Lewis the $36 he should have been charged initially. Read more on this story here

George MacIntosh, 73, was charged a staggering £200 for premium-rate gambling texts he didn't intend to sign up for. Unfortunately this wasn't a scam but a legal service from a company called Zamano. It seems the retired vicar had accidentally signed up after responding to an initial text from the company. Read the full story here.
Philip Groves was amazed to receive a £1,411 bill from Vodafone last year for his 10-year-old daughter Trinity's phone. It turns out Trinity had watched 28 hours of instructional loom band videos on YouTube, assuming her phone was using wifi. But the wifi had cut out, leaving her phone using the data allowance at it's highest rate. Vodafone refused to cancel the bill and threatened legal action. Read more here
Daniel Pontin was in for quite a shock after opening a gas bill charging him £31,000 for a year's worth of gas in a one-bedroom home. Pontin claimed his meter was broken when he moved in and was initially charged £35 a month for six months before he stopped receiving bills. When the huge £31,000 estimated bill arrived Npower told Pontin to ignore it while they investigated. Read the full story here
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