Cancelling a phone, TV, internet or mobile contract
You should check the terms and conditions of your contract to find out what your cancellation rights are. You’ll probably have to pay a fee to cancel a contract if you've decided you don't want it anymore.
However, you might be legally entitled to cancel the contract without a fee if either:
- you signed up less than 14 days ago (ie you’re within a ‘cooling off period’)
- the price of the contract has gone up
- there’s a problem with your broadband speed
If none of these apply, you probably can't cancel the contract without having to pay a fee - contact the company or check your terms and conditions for details.
If you signed up less than 14 days ago
Your legal right to cancel the contract for free depends on whether you signed up over the phone, in person, or online.
If you signed up over the phone or online
You can cancel the contract for free if you signed up less than 14 days ago over the phone or online. This is called a ‘cooling-off’ period. If you’ve already used the service (eg you made calls on a phone), you’re likely to be charged for what you’ve used.
Contact the business and say you want to cancel the contract because you’re still in the cooling-off period. You’ll probably need to give them details such as your account reference number - check any documents or emails you have from the company.
If you post a letter or send an email asking to cancel within the cooling-off period, the contract will be cancelled from the date you post the letter.
If you signed up in person
You don’t have the legal right to a 14-day cooling-off period if you signed up in person (ie you met someone from the company in person and signed a contract). It's worth asking anyway - they might let you cancel if you're confident and ask for a 'goodwill gesture'.
If the price has gone up
Your provider has to give you 30 days’ notice if they’re putting up the price of your contract. You have the legal right to cancel the contract within those 30 days without having to pay a fee. Contact the company and say you’re cancelling within the allowed 30 days’ notice of a price increase.
You won’t be able to cancel without a fee if either:
- you signed up to the contract before 23 January 2014, or
- you were told at the start of the contract that the price would be going up, for example if you signed up for a 18 month contract but the first 3 months were at a discounted rate
If your broadband is slow
Check your broadband speed using Ofcom’s speed checker and make a note of the results.
What you can do next depends on when your contract started.
If your contract started on or after 1 March 2019
Ask your supplier for the Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed (MGALS) for your line.
If your broadband is slower than the MGALS
First, check if your supplier has signed up to the New Voluntary Codes of Practice on Broadband Speed on the Ofcom website.
If your supplier has signed up
Contact your supplier and give them your results from the speed checker - they have 1 month to fix the problem.
You can cancel your contract without paying a fee if they can’t fix the problem, then you can switch to a new broadband supplier.
If you have a deal that includes your TV, mobile or home phone you can switch them at the same time without paying a fee.
If your supplier hasn’t signed up yet
It’s worth contacting your supplier and letting them know your results from the speed checker, but they don’t have to do anything about it.
You can try asking for a discount if your broadband is slower than you were told it would be.
If you cancel your contract you might have to pay a fee - you could try asking them to waive the fee, given the poor service you’ve received.
If your broadband is faster than the MGALS
You can try asking for a discount if your broadband is faster than the MGALS, but slower than you were told it would be.
Your supplier might agree to a discount if you either:
- can’t switch to another supplier without paying a fee
- don’t think you’ll get faster broadband with another supplier
If your contract started before 1 March 2019
You can try asking for a discount if your broadband is slower than you were told it would be. Contact your supplier and let them know your results from the speed checker.
If you cancel your contract you might have to pay a fee - you could ask your supplier to waive the fee, given the poor service you’ve received.
You can also try Ofcom’s tips for improving your broadband speed.
If you’ve been signed up to a service without agreeing
You might have unknowingly entered into a contract and are being charged regularly. This can sometimes happen with promotions or games you sign up for through text messages or mobile apps.
This is called a ‘continuous payment authority’ and can also happen when you sign up for a free trial of something that then starts to cost you money.
The best thing to do is contact your bank to cancel the direct debit or credit card payments.
Contact your local Citizens Advice bureau or Advice Direct Scotland's consumer service for more help.
Advice Direct Scotland's Consumer Service
Freephone: 0808 164 6000