BT has announced that it will be charging customers who keep their Wi-Fi router or set-top box beyond the end of their contract. The company explains that the decision was made in an attempt to reduce waste and improve its refurbishment program; it currently estimates that around one million devices will be rescued from landfill as a result.
Customers will receive a penalty fee if the router or set-top box isn’t returned after their contract expires. The fee amount varies depending on the product in question: wireless routers like the BT Home Hub or Smart Hub will incur a £43-50 charge (depending on the model), whilst set-top boxes like the BT YouView box will cost between £60-£115 in late fees.
BT explains that customers who wish to keep their router or set-top box beyond the end of their contract will need to pay the above fees. These new fees will eventually also apply to BT subsidiaries EE and Plusnet, BT told the BBC.
The broadband provider will send out a padded envelope that can be used to return old BT devices, including those that are not affected by the new fees – BT urges its customers to return any old BT routers or TV boxes, regardless of age.
Alternatively, you can also visit any BT or EE store on the high street and drop your disused hardware off there. BT says that the devices it receives will be recycled or refurbished.
This is really only a small step upward from a legal perspective: the BT broadband terms and agreements already state that the firm owns any devices it sends to customers for the duration of their contract and beyond.
One small bonus is that as a result of the imposed fee, new BT broadband contracts will no longer include an upfront payment for the router or box – although the price of the contracts themselves is unlikely to change.
Other broadband providers operate a similar policy: Virgin Media, for example, charges customers anywhere from £50-£100 (model dependent) for devices that aren’t returned once a contract expires.