BT will now charge broadband customers an extra £50 if they do not return their router when their contract ends.
The new measure is intended to reduce waste and follows an addition to BT contracts − made in December − that states the company retains ownership of the Wi-Fi and set-top boxes it sends to customers (via FT).
BT says that routers and boxes will be refurbished and re-used by new customers. The company claims this measure could reduce the number of boxes being thrown away each year by around a million.
Depending on the model, it may cost customers £43-£50 to keep a router and £60-£115 to keep a BT YouView box. BT has not reduced monthly subscription charges for customers but will no longer charge any up-front fees for set-top boxes or routers, as they remain the property of the company.
The company has attempted to make box returns convenient, however, sending padded envelopes for the boxes and adding that they can be dropped off at any BT or EE high street store.
At first glance this seems like a positive move in terms of the company’s environmental impact.
However, as cyber-security expert Graham Cluley told the BBC: “It would surely be even more environmentally friendly if the devices allowed you to use them with other broadband services.” Currently the boxes are “locked” and cannot be used in conjunction with a competitor’s broadband service.
Virgin Media already has a similar policy in place. Virgin charges up to £50 for keeping a ‘Hub 3’, Wired Booster or similar and up to £100 for keeping the V6 TV Box.
The company site reveals similar motivations: “At Virgin Media we do our best to repair and reuse as much old kit as we possibly can. Unfortunately, not all our products can be reused in their current form but that need not be the end of its useful life. Most electrical and electronic items can be recycled and reused helping reduce the environmental and health risks associated with using landfill.”