PSA: Unifi forces you to renew contract for any plan change after your contract is over

Most fibre broadband plans in the country including Unifi are usually tied to a 24-month contract. This is a standard industry practice as the telcos are providing the modem, wireless router and installation for free. But what happens if you’ve completed your 24-month contract and you just want to upgrade or downgrade your plan?

Turns out that TM requires a new contract refresh regardless if you’re within or beyond an existing contract. This even includes upgrading your Unifi plan without requiring a new router.

Unifi user (@me_siam) had told us about this policy when he/she was planning to upgrade from a RM79/month Unifi 30Mbps plan with 60GB of quota to a RM89/month Unifi 30Mbps plan with unlimited quota.

This condition is also stated in its FAQ dated October 2020. To get further clarification, we’ve asked TM if a new contract was necessary if an out of contract customer wishes to change their plan with no new hardware required.

Unifi requires contract refresh for all upgrade/downgrade situations

Below is TM’s official response:

Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) wishes to highlight that we do not offer any change of plans without contract. For any changes to a unifi customer’s subscription plan, their minimum subscription period will be refreshed as specified in the new package’s Terms & Conditions (T&C).

The customer’s minimum subscription period will also be refreshed following any replacement of equipment or change of plan to an ongoing promotional campaign. For a package upgrade order from 30Mbps to 100Mbps, the customer may be required to upgrade to a new CPE (depending on the compatibility of the existing CPE with the customer’s new plan). The customer will be informed of the T&C and the options available should there be any requirement to change their equipment. This is to ensure they receive the best customer experience.

We usually offer our existing unifi customers a better value proposition as compared to their existing plan for any upselling or customer retention programme. In this case, we do refresh their contract for the value of the new plan.

TM does review its T&Cs from time to time to best suit customers’ needs.

Based on the official reply, there’s no option for you to change your plan without being tied to a new contract. Understandably, some existing Unifi customers are still using very old hardware which definitely requires replacement. This may include a new modem and dual-band WiFi router to support the faster speeds.

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But in other circumstances, there are customers that bought their own WiFi routers and all they need is just a speed bump. Logically, if customers do not require any new hardware, why is there a need to be tied to a new contract?

The Unifi customer who has reached out to us is not even getting a speed upgrade but merely changing from a plan with 60GB quota to an unlimited option. It doesn’t make sense to get trapped into another 24-month tenure just for this minor plan change.

No contract from other providers if no new hardware required

Similar to mobile postpaid plans, contracts should only apply if you’re getting a new device or if the telco is offering additional discounts or rebate. So what are other fibre broadband providers doing?

According to Time, its customers may upgrade or downgrade without any penalty or contract reset if there’s no free router involved. As shown above, a contract reset only applies if customers take up the free router offer or if they downgrade within the contract period.

Checks with Celcom also revealed that there’s no contract refresh for customers who wish to downgrade or upgrade their Celcom Home Fibre plans after they completed the 24-month contract. However, customers may be subjected to a new contract if they opt for an offering or promotion.

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Similarly, Maxis only imposes a contract refresh if customer receives new devices. If the customer doesn’t require new hardware, Maxis does not impose a new contract.

[ UPDATE 02/02/2021 17:00 ] Digi has also confirmed that if a fibre broadband customer has fulfilled their contract, they can upgrade or downgrade their current plan without the need to renew the contract. If a customer is currently on a contract, they are able to upgrade mid-way and are only required to fulfil the balance of the original contract period.

Consumers shouldn’t be forced to accept a contract refresh

From the looks of it, it seems like TM is trying to trap its users unnecessarily with this contract refresh policy. After fulfilling the initial contract, customers should be free to upgrade or downgrade their plan without being tied to another 24-months.

Consumers generally dislike contracts because it restricts their freedom to switch when there are better deals in the market. Extended contract might not be ideal for those who are renting as their existing tenancy agreement might have less than 24 months remaining. Sometimes consumers may have a sudden change in demand and they only want to upgrade for short period of time during the MCO.

If TM wants to lock a customer for another two years, they should offer the customer additional benefits. They could provide the latest WiFi 6 router or a Mesh WiFi solution for free, which is similar to mobile telcos offering free phones on contract to loyal customers. Alternatively, they could also offer extra discounts for staying with Unifi for another two years and this can be seen as a loyalty reward.

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In the previous example, the customer just wants to step up to an unlimited plan for an extra RM10 per month. TM could have offered a contract-free option of paying RM89/month or a discounted rate of RM79/month that’s tied to a 24-month contract.

If TM doesn’t offer extra value, it makes more sense for the customer to switch to other providers such as Maxis if they are going to be forced into a new contract anyway. For RM89/month, Maxis offers 30Mbps for both download and upload, and it comes with unlimited quota. As a comparison, TM’s 30Mbps Unifi fibre plan has a lower 10Mbps upload speed.

What do you think? Let us know if you’ve encountered a similar issue when trying to upgrade/downgrade your Unifi plan after 24-months.

Alexander Wong