Email charges: ‘They’ve got you over a barrel’

Christine Clement

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Christine Clement

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Christine Clement (far left) estimates that she has paid around £ 275 in expenses to BT in recent years just to continue using her old email address as before

Ofcom claims that some customers “are not treated fairly” for the amount they are charged for keeping old email addresses.

This happens when customers continue to use an old email address from an internet service provider that they have left since then.

Many people who changed later paid hundreds of pounds just to continue using their old address as before.

The Ofcom investigation was motivated by a Money Box report earlier this year.

“They took you over a barrel”

Ofcom also found that most people who use an address provided by their broadband company are former BT customers.

BT says if customers want to switch providers but keep their old BT email address, they pay £ 7.50 a month to be able to log in and use their account as they did before, including logging in through an app.

This is what happened to Iain Stuart of Cardiff.

He said that BT first started charging him £ 1.60 a month, “then it went up to £ 5 and is now £ 7.50”.

“My feeling was [BT] it basically got you past a barrel. “

Like many other people, Mr. Stuart has registered his email address with dozens of websites including banks, construction companies, utilities, online stores and social media accounts, not to mention all his friends. and family members who use it.

“To change something I’ve used endlessly for different things … when you start looking at it, if you’ve looked at all of it, and I’ve looked at the logistics to change my email address, it’s not something I want to waste time doing.

“The alternative is to pay £ 90 a year. I can afford to pay but I shouldn’t pay and I don’t want to pay.”

BT says it offers people a free service to access their old email address, but this needs to be done by logging in through a web browser that doesn’t allow people to receive email via apps on their mobile phones.

This free, web browser-only service is also not something Stuart likes.

“I just want to be able to use my email account like I’ve been doing for years and years.”

Postpone the passage?

According to a study conducted by, one in six UK adults says they are likely to be discouraged from switching broadband providers for fear of losing their email address or being accused of maintaining it.

This is the point of Ofcom is concerned about.

Christine Clement claims to have been with other broadband providers for years but is still paying BT for an email address that she started using around 2000.

“I can’t see what service I get for paying £ 7.50 a month.

“When [the charges] the first time it came in at £ 1.60 seemed reasonable, but £ 7.50 a month is £ 90 a year and that seems big enough, “he says.

As for the option to stop paying expenses and lose her email address, Ms. Clement says it’s something she would never have been able to do.

“I must have at least more than 40 accounts with which I registered my e-mail. It is a lot to change and this without even notifying friends and relatives.

“It would take time and it’s just something I would never do. But why would I have to pay exorbitant prices to keep the address?”

BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin Media supply 90% of the UK broadband market and BT is not the only provider that charges customers if they want to keep old addresses and use them as before if people change providers.

Who charges what?

  • BT: £ 7.50 per month to maintain normal access (although users can keep their BT email addresses for nothing with limitations, including being able to log in only through a browser)
  • Speak speak: £ 5 per month (or £ 50 for a full year if paid in advance)
  • Virgin: Account canceled 90 days after logging out
  • Sky: Users can keep the old email address free after changing suppliers

In a statement BT said: “If [customers] change broadband provider, they can continue to use the BT e-mail service, free of charge, through a web browser.

“This version includes unlimited storage, online antivirus protection and a UK-based helpdesk.

“The premium email service is also available for customers who switch providers and also includes multiple mailboxes and email app access for £ 7.50 a month.”

‘Don’t be treated fairly’

Ofcom told Money Box: “We are concerned about industry practices that could discourage people from moving, so we have gathered more information from suppliers about their different approaches to this problem.

“We fear that some customers will not be treated fairly and we will increase them with suppliers.”

You can hear more about BBC Radio 4’s Money Box program by listening again Here.

Follow Piggy bank is Dan on Twitter.

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