Getting Out: Ending Your ISP Contract Legally and Quickly

Jacques du Rand 2018-09-23

We all know how people usually end up tied into a contract with their Internet Service Provider. They come up with an offer you just can’t refuse at a price you can afford – but only if you sign up to their service for a 12 or 24-month fixed contract to get the deal. 

And before you know it, you’re dealing with slow connections, constant buffering and terrible service, but still getting a bill every month for a service you never got to use in the first place. 

That’s not fair, is it? We say no! Consumers have a right to fair choice, and you have a right to have access to the fast, working internet connection that you’re paying for. 

Here are some sure signs that you need to get out of the contract with your ISP, and more information about how you can legally do that according to the Consumer Protection Act (68 of 2008). 


Should I Cancel?

Many people choose to stick with their current internet provider out of loyalty because they’ve been with the company for years, other people might just hope that the issue fixes itself over time – until, of course, it doesn’t. There are also people who are only sticking with their internet service provider contract because they have no idea how to opt out. 

If any of those describes you, then that might be your answer that it’s time to cancel your contract. 

You should cancel your contract with your current internet service provider if: 

  • You aren’t getting the service or product that you’re paying for.
  • You are being ignored by customer support when you have an issue.
  • You are unhappy with the product or service offered in any way.
  • You have to deal with constant internet slow-downs and down-times when you really can’t afford it.

You should also consider cancelling your contract if your service provider makes any drastic changes to the agreement, or if you feel that the “deal” you originally signed up for is no longer working for you. 

That describes many South African consumers. Now that we’ve talked about the why of cancelling your internet service provider contract, let’s get to the how part a little bit further down.



The Consumer Protection Act and YOU

The Consumer Protection Act (68 of 2008) was signed into action to protect South African consumers against any unfair dealings or underhanded marketing tactics in the marketplace – for both products and services. 

If you’re unhappy about the way your steak showed up at a restaurant and you send it back to the kitchen, it’s the CPA that dictates what should happen from there. If your cheeseburger has a worm in it or your exercise bike falls apart on the third day, you’re right back to relying on the CPA. You get the idea. 

The CPA is also very specific when it comes to fixed-term contracts – whether the contract is for three, six, twelve or twenty-four months. Fixed-term contracts like the deal you signed with your Internet Service Provider will fall into this category. 

The CPA states that consumers have the right to cancel a fixed-term contract on the expiry date of the contract and that consumers can do this by notifying the supplier or provider of this in writing. The CPA also states that consumers have a right to cancel their contracts before this date, as long as they notify the provider in writing with 20 business days’ notice. 

If a consumer cancels their contract before the term ends, the consumer will still be liable for the bill – and there might be a cancellation fee in your contract. If that makes your heart jolt, don’t worry about it: The Consumer Protection Act also says that such a cancellation fee has to fall within fair, legal boundaries. 

If you want to get out of your internet service provider contract, the easiest way to approach it is to notify them in writing, via email of your intention to end the contract. If this is met with deaf ears, follow up with a phone call to head office to address the issue. 

If that doesn’t solve it, your next best bet is going to the National Consumer Commission NCC and laying an official complaint.