BT is laying claim to the ownership of customers’ routers, saying customers will be fined if they fail to return the Hub at the end of their contract.
BT supplies Smart Hubs to new broadband customers, but has previously let customers keep the equipment if they switched broadband provider at the end of their deal.
That policy has now changed, according to the Ts & Cs on a broadband contract renewal I was offered.
“As of 13 December 2019, we own all BT Broadband Hubs (Hub 4, Smart Hub, Ultrafast Smart Hub and Smart Hub 2) and TV Boxes (Z4, G4 and G5) sent out to customers,” the BT terms state.
“When you replace hubs or boxes, or leave BT, please return those items to us. If the kit is not returned, you may be liable for a charge. Details of charging can be found on the Tariff Guide.”
“You have a total of 60 days to return your items and which includes the time taken for us to send out a jiffy bag,” BT adds.
How much will customers be charged if they fail to return their router? According to BT’s tariff guide, you’ll have to pay £43 for a Hub 4, £43 for a Smart Hub or £50 for a Smart Hub 2.
Why is BT taking ownership of customers Hubs?
A heavy clue can be found in the aforementioned tariff guide, where BT states that customers who signed their contracts before 13 December 2019 are likely to receive second-hand equipment if a fault develops with their router.
“We’ll supply a BT Home Hub to all customers taking BT Broadband, Superfast Fibre or Fibre 100/ 250 where the package includes it, or a new Hub is required for the service to work,” the BT tariff guide states.
“This may be a new or reconditioned hub. BT customers who joined before 13.12.19, who request a replacement hub, may be supplied with a reconditioned hub. A reconditioned hub is one which has been reconditioned to an ‘as new’ standard and is supplied with the same 12-month warranty that would apply to a brand new hub.”
The mention of a 12-month warranty is perplexing, given that BT Broadband contracts often run to 18 or 24 months. BT appears to be saying that its routers – which it now owns – are only guaranteed for half the duration of some contracts. Presumably it wants customers to pay for their own router equipment if a fault develops after, say, 13 months?
Update – 9th January:
BT has answered a few of our questions about this change in policy.
In regards to why it’s made this move, BT claims it’s not a cost-cutting exercise, but an environmentally-friendly one.
“We try to minimise the environmental impact of our products,” the company said in a statement. “We recycle our products when they’re not needed and we try to use fewer materials and resources in the first place. Historically, we’ve seen a very low volume of returns, so we’ve moved to requesting our customers to return equipment they’re no longer using and they can do this either by post or by simply dropping it into a BT store on the high street across the UK. This will help to limit the amount of waste of going into landfill.“
As a kicker, BT adds that Virgin Media does likewise, and you can probably expect other broadband providers to follow suit.
As for the question of the warranty, BT says the mention of the warranty in its tariff guide was erronous, and that all Hubs will be effectively guaranteed for the lifetime of the broadband contract.
“There are no warranties for the equipment,” the company said. “We will simply provide a free replacement if the equipment is faulty and this applies the lifetime the customer is with us.”
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