Friday 23 June 2017

Free TV or bundling is the way to go for maximum value

Premium channels such as Sky Sports or Sky Movies are not available on Saorview, but it does include specialist stations such as RTE Junior
Premium channels such as Sky Sports or Sky Movies are not available on Saorview, but it does include specialist stations such as RTE Junior
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

Many consumers are now paying over €1,000 a year for home TV, broadband and phone services.

And  recent hikes to UPC and Sky rates as well as upcoming ones on Eircom  have left many people wondering how they can cut these costs.

Rate increases, though never welcome, do provide people with the opportunity to shop around for a better deal as significant hikes mean companies have to allow you switch even if you’re in a contract, says Simon Moynihan of comparison site bonkers.ie.

This usually has to be done within 30 days of receiving notice of the increase however  and customers should note that outside of that they face penalties if they break their contract early.

A bundled service of TV, broadband and homephone is usually the best value, though that’s only the case if you actually want all three services, says Mr Moynihan.

With UPC, bundled packages start from €65 a month, while with Sky the basic cost starts from €69 per month — though both offer introductory discounts to new customers.

For the most basic standalone TV packages, UPC charges €360 a year while Sky charges €348 a year, though UPC has an introductory offer on its fancier Horizon package that would cost €340 the first year, and €420 after that.

Sky Sports will cost you €34 extra a month and Sky Movies  €28 on Sky packages while on UPC these add-ons cost €40 and €35 a month respectively. Sky currently has a €28 a month introductory offer for both Sky Movies and Sports for existing customers, but after eight months it goes to €45.

Many consumers have dramatically cut costs by ditching subscription TV services altogether to opt for free television services received via Saorview for Irish channels and Freeview for all the main British stations including all the BBCs and ITVs.

Premium paid channels such as Sky Sports or Sky Movies are not available, though the free packages do include many specialist stations such as  childrens’ channels RTE Junior and CBBC. Although you can kiss goodbye to monthly bills with these services, they do involve a one-off equipment and set-up costs starting from around €279 from installers such as freetoair.ie or billfreetv.ie.

This includes a satellite dish to receive the UK channels — though if you already have a Sky dish you can use that — and an aerial for the Irish ones, as well as a settop combibox to control them.

Turlough O’Connor of billfreetv.ie says there’s been a big increase in the number of households switching to the free TV option. When it comes to broadband and homephone look beyond introductory discounts for ongoing price is.

If you’re switching your homephone and broadband you don’t need to cancel your old service as your new provider will do that for you automatically — though make sure you’re not incurring early-exit penalties by breaking the contract early.

You will need to give the new provider your Universal Account Number to make the switch which should be on your bill. It’s called Eircom Account Number on their bills.

Eoin Clarke of comparison site uSwitch.ie warns that broadband speeds may sound very fast but advertised speeds of “up to 100Mb/s” often work out as just 24Mb/s in practice.

Most broadband will be the same speed if it’s coming in through the same telephone line, regardless of who’s billing you, with UPC offering a separate route through its cable network, he says.

Currently Sky phone and broadband packages start from €30 per month, though you only get a 2GB per month data allowance with this.

UPC’s phone and broadband packages start from €35 a month though it’s €15 a month for the first four months for new customers.

Eircom eFibre charges new customers €33 a month for the first six months, going up to €53 a month after that. Vodafone has a Simply Broadband option for €35 a month or €45 a month when free calls to landlines are included.

How to switch your TV bundle

Step 1

Check what the best price options are. The regulator Comreg has a site callcosts.ie where you can enter details of your phone and broadband usage to see how different packages compare.

You may need to look at an old bill to check when you make most of your landline calls, eg weekends, daytime or evenings. Uswitch.ie and Bonkers.ie also offer easy price comparisons with details of standalone TV packages as well as bundled offers with phone and broadband.

Step 2

Check you don't still have months left to run on your contract or you could face early-exit penalties. Contact your provider if you're not sure.

If they've recently told you about a price increase, you can exit a contract within 30 days of getting notice.

If you do find a better offer from a new provider, it's worth contacting the old one to see if they can match it or give you a better deal to keep your custom.

Step 3

Get your universal account number from your phone bill as you'll need to give this to your new provider. It's called the Eircom account number on their bills.

Step 4

Contact your new provider by phone or online and they'll switch you at an appointed date and send out any new equipment necessary. If switching TV you'll need to contact the old provider.

Potential saving: €350

Total time: 60 mins

Irish Independent

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