Broadband, phone and mobile customers will be free to quit their contract at any time if an ISP ups its prices by any amount.
The new rules, put in place by telecoms regulator Ofcom, come into effect on January 23, 2014 and will apply to line rental as well as broadband and phone services.
As well as giving customers the freedom to leave an ISP if it hikes its prices, providers will also have to give customers a months’ notice and let them leave without forcing them to pay a termination fee.
Previously, ISPs were obligated to keep customers informed of price rises, but only if they were considered to be materially detrimental to the subscriber.
Ofcom decided that its General Conditions were too vague and announced plans to rewrite the rulebook last October. Any price rise, even a rise of an extra penny a month, will now have to be communicated to customers.
Research published last year showed that mid-contract price rises and a lack of transparency from providers were significant sources of complaints received by Ofcom.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer Group director said: “We have reached an important milestone in our work to ensure consumers and small businesses have better protection against unexpected price increases.
“Additionally, our new guide highlights important factors customers might want to consider before entering into a new contract to help them understand exactly what they are signing up to.”
Ofcom says that it will be conducting mystery shopping expeditions to see if ISPs and networks are playing by the new rules.
When ISPs including Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk increased charges for certain services in 2013, they dutifully informed customers in advance. Other service providers might not be as up front with their customers.