John Lewis join discount war with new broadband offer

simon chandler
By Simon Chandler

john lewis store front

JOHN LEWIS have become the latest provider to offer increased discounts to new broadband customers, with the introductory fees they provide incoming subscribers dropping by up to £2.50 a month.

Such decreases would mean that, instead of paying £32.50 a month for a year for up to 38Mb fibre broadband, new customers would pay £30 a month.

With such reductions, John Lewis join EE in lowering the discounted monthly fee they charge new customers during the first 12 months of their contracts, further confirming suspicions that smaller broadband providers have begun a discounts war in the bid to attract new subscribers.

However, the discounts on offer from John Lewis aren't quite as generous as EE's, although customers interested in landline call packages may be reassured to hear that the subscription fee does include weekend & evening calls, as opposed to just weekend calls.

The packages

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As for what else the broadband deals on offer from John Lewis include, two prominent features of all three packages is that they come with unlimited data allowances, and that they cost the same regardless of whether the customer lives in a city centre or in the countryside.

That they avoid geographic pricing may make them particularly attractive to those living in more rural areas who want a cheaper broadband deal, especially when compared to certain budget providers (e.g. Plusnet and Direct Save) who do set prices according to location.

What's interesting about this is that both John Lewis' network and customer service is provided by Plusnet, yet John Lewis nonetheless don't use geographic pricing whereas Plusnet do.

These details aside, another attraction is the simple fact that all three packages - listed below - come with inclusive weekend & evening calls, arguably making them more ideal for customers who do get a bit of mileage out of their home phone.

PackageDiscounted monthly fee (for first 12 months)Standard monthly fee
Up to 17Mb broadband£22.50 (no change)£26.50
Up to 38Mb broadband£30 (was £32.50)£38
Up to 76Mb broadband£35 (was £36.50)£43

One thing to note about the above is that setup and installation is included in the cost of the monthly subscription fee. One exception to this, however, is if customers don't have a compatible landline to begin with and so need one installed, in which case they will have to pay a one-time fee of £49.99.

EE comparison

For most customers the £49.99 fee won't apply, making John Lewis' deals an attractive proposition.

Nonetheless, they aren't quite as attractive price wise as EE's, who introduced their discount reductions yesterday and whose broadband packages are tabled below:

PackageDiscounted monthly fee (for first 18 months)Standard monthly feeSetup charge
Up to 17Mb broadband£18.50 (was £21)£28.50£7
Up to 38Mb broadband£26 (was £28.50)£34.50£32
Up to 76Mb broadband£32.50 (unchanged)£40.50£32

Still, forgetting the differences in subscription fees (anywhere between £3 and £4 for the first 12/18 months), the two sets of packages aren't that easy to compare, since EE's include set up fees of varying amounts, even for those customers who already have a landline.

Added to this, EE's come only with inclusive weekend calls to UK landlines, while John Lewis' also includes evening calls.

Because of this, customers who plan to use their home phone regularly may be better off going for John Lewis, while those who use their smartphone will probably be happier with EE.

That's because, even with the setup charge of £32 for the 76Mb option, a £2.50 monthly difference for 12 months - and then £10.50 a month for six months - still means that new EE customers would save £76 across the entire 18 months of the EE discount period, compared to the John Lewis deal.

That said, if they add Anytime calls - at £6.50 extra a month - this saving would be wiped out over the 18 months, having cost customers £117 in total.

Discount war

This goes to show that, even when simple headline price comparisons might come out in favour of one provider over another, the variety of additions and optional extras often mean that most providers have something to offer the right customer.

And with John Lewis being the third ISP to offer reduced discounts or special offers in the past week, it also goes to show that a discount war is very much underway at the moment among smaller ISPs, as bigger providers and even Plusnet raise their prices.

Such aggressive discounting and marketing comes at a time when new customer additions at ISPs have reportedly been drying up as a result of higher prices, with the discounting of pre-existing discounts being part of the response of providers to such an apparent slump.

It therefore remains to be seen who will join the fray next, and what kind of savings or benefits they'll be offering members of the public hungry to change their internet supplier.

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