Can You Cancel Your Foxtel Movies Contract?

Foxtel introduced its new movie channel lineup yesterday, and the reduction in the number of overall channels has sparked an outcry on social media. Some customers are threatening to cancel their pay TV as a result, but whether that makes sense depends on your contract.

Picture by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

We reported on the changed movie lineup in early December, but the relatively brief period between Foxtel's announcement and the January 1 start for the new Movies & Premium Drama meant it apparently caught many customers by surprise. Foxtel's Facebook page was swamped with comments attacking the new lineup. This one was fairly typical:

Seriously unhappy about losing the Movie channels! 7 chanels gone and only two in return, 3300+ hours less content! And you are still charging the same...

Many customers suggested they would either downgrade their package or cancel Foxtel altogether as a result of the new arrangements. Whether that makes sense depends on the specific contract you have. If you're signed up to a 12-month or 24-month contract at a specific price, then cancelling doesn't make economic sense, as you'll have to pay out the deal anyway. If you're no longer on contract, you have much more flexibility.

Either way, it can't hurt to contact Foxtel and try and score a better deal if you're unhappy with the new offering. It's expensive to sign up new customers, so Foxtel has an incentive to try and keep customers happy. It won't be able to roll you back to the previous packages, but staff may be able to throw in other sweeteners, or agree to let you downgrade to a cheaper package. Remember the basics of getting what you want from customer service: be polite, not angry. Foxtel's call centre staff didn't decide to change the movie lineup, and yelling at them is very unlikely to get you a better deal.

If you do ditch Foxtel's movie offerings, what are your alternatives if you're a heavy movie watcher? Leaving aside torrenting movies (cheap but entirely illegal), you have two basic choices: using a streaming service, or switching to DVDs which you either buy or rent (yes, that sill happens). In the streaming space, your main choices in Australia are Quickflix, Fetch TV, BigPond Movies, iTunes and CASPA. None are an exact equivalent of Foxtel, and all rely on having a decent internet connection and a generous data allowance (though Fetch TV and BigPond Movies have options which don't count against your monthly total).

Considering switching from Foxtel because of the movies switch? Tell us why in the comments.


Comments

    Foxtel's communication on this has been just awful. It's almost like they've gone out of their way to NOT explain that the catalyst for the changes was out of their control - Time Warner, Disney, MGM and Village Roadshow disbanded the Movie Network.

      It is my understanding that Foxtel purchased Showtime Movies and didn't renew their contract with Movie Network, which is why they disbanded?

      We dropped Foxtel in the late 90's after we signed up to get half a dozen particular channels (eg Comedy Central) then after ~6 months all the channels that interested me were moved into "premium" packages. I swore never to touch them again, and after seeing this kind of crap I see nothing has changed after all this time.

      Lodge a complaint against them with the TIO. You'll be able to get out of your contract without an early cancellation fee as long as you make it clear you signed up to a contract based on certain channel availability which they've revoked without your prior approval or consent.

        Just a word of warning - if you get Foxtel directly through Foxtel, and not billed through Telstra, you can't make a complaint to the TIO.

        If you want to make a complaint about content, rather than billing, you still won't technically be able to register a complaint with them even if you are billed through Telstra, although you might get lucky.

        http://www.tio.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/9077/Pay-TV.pdf

        Nope, stupid advice. Foxtel aren't a telecommunications provider. The TIO can do nothing.

          As several have pointed out, TIO is not the correct organisation for a non-Telco, but the same general point about signing up on the basis of a particular offering that is now not available applies. You can raise this argument with your state Office of Fair Trading or state department of consumer affairs or (in victoria, maybe similar bodies in other states) the Victorian Civic and Administative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) if Foxtel won't let you out of your contract. You will win eventually, you might have to start the ball rolling with these government bodies if Foxtel stonewall you initially.

          Well I'll still back my first hand experience over your lounge chair commentary.
          I went through the TIO (admittedly late 90s, it has been a while) to get my contract cancelled when I had a subscription and they changed the packages. Results != stupid advice.

        I too dumped them when they first pulled the ''fewer good channels for the same money'' swizzle.

        It took me 45 minutes on the phone to get them to cancel my contract... during which time they made lots of offers to try to retain me. But I went ahead and insisted they cancel my contract, on principle.

        I haven't missed Foxtel in the interim.

    Another alternative is to se a VPN and sign up for Netflix in the states. This is not illegal. You are paying for a service that is legitamately offered. You can sign up with an Australian address & credit card (unlike amazon & hulu plus).

    Whilst torrenting is technically illegal, it's as socially acceptable and as commonplace as j-walking, so the "law" isn't likely to be enforced anytime soon. If you use a VPN to torrent from a country where it's legal, it's you're habits won't need to change even if the law starts getting enforced here. Plus torrent friendly VPNs are available as cheap as $40 per year, but spending $70-90 per year will get you the better speeds. Getting unlimited ADSL2+ makes the data allowance arguement irrelevant.

    I had Fetch TV but I ditched it because there is only a few TV shows or movies I watch in a month and I want these completely on demand. The price Fetch charges for movies is completely unreasonable in my opinion.

    Quickflix is something i have considered, and it's cost is very reasonable at $15 a month for unlimited streaming, but it's tie ins with specific vendors annoy me. I only NEED a Samsung phone to stream Quickflix, because Quickflix have chosen to partner with Samsung. That is anti-competitive behaviour against every other android smartphone & tablet manufacturer.

    Last edited 02/01/13 9:08 am

      I currently use Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video via Unblock-us (in addition to Foxtel). May not be illegal, you are still violating their terms of service though.

      Why Torrents.
      Using a newsnet Server with Programs just as Sickbeard and couchpotato is far better. These Programs will rename the content into a standard format which will make it easier to find (and makes xbmc work better as well)

    I will try Foxtel Movies for the next month or two, might however cancel the package if the price is not reduced (since there is only one package now, which currently costs $32 per month). There are many people out there who were happy paying $16 per month for half of the movie channels. $32 per month is asking too much, for those who only watch a couple of movies per month.

    I don't see why you would have to put up with this. In effect Foxtel has reduced what you're getting without changing the prices. If you're out of contract then it's a pain but easily sorted if you're not happy. If you're in contract then I'd be very surprised if they can get away with it. My actions would be as follows...

    1) Call Foxtel and make a complaint. If they're willing to come to the party and either cancel your contract without paying it out - or better yet reduce the cost then you're set.
    2) If that doesn't work log a call with Fair Trading in your state. Remember you signed the contract under the old agreement and as a consumer you can expect them to continue for the life of the contract. At the very least this should allow you to extricate yourself from the contract without penalty. Remember if they have included terms in the contract that allow them to basically remove channels these can be deemed as 'unfair' and as such may be actionable by the ACCC and fair trade once a number of people have pushed it through.

      TIO http://www.tio.com.au/

      Fair Trading would be a waste of time anywhere except Victoria. In NSW for example, they have very little real power and the best result you'll get is a referral to the CTTT (which will cost you money to even book a hearing), meanwhile still have to keep paying or have your account referred to debt collectors.

      A TIO complaint will cost Foxtel money, not you.
      If Foxtel don't resolve to your satisfaction and you can get the complaint escalated, the cost to Foxtel increases sharply with each escalation.
      They have the power to freeze your account so Foxtel cannot continue billing you or refer you to debt collectors.

      In short, if enough people did this, Foxtel really would be made to pay for their dodginess.

        Nope. Foxtel is not a member of the TIO.

          Telstra are a member, they own roughly half of Foxtel, and the vast majority of people I know who have Foxtel have it billed on their existing Telstra accounts.

            how can u NOT understand this ??? THIS IS NOT AS ISSUE with you homephone or internet the TIO cannot assist "EVEN" if you have a bundle. please read the pdf document the previous memmber has posted "Telstra are a member" .... yyeeehhh ... foxtel < telstra. Do you call energy australia to fix your microwave ??? NO

      If we withdraw a Channel during the Fixed Term which
      causes a more than nominal detrimental change to the
      Programming Package and we do not reduce the price of
      the Programming Package or replace the Channel with a
      similar genre Channel, you may end this Agreement without
      being required to pay the Early Termination Fee.
      If we withdraw a feature or functionality of the Service
      during the Fixed Term which causes a more than nominal
      detrimental change to the Service and we do not
      reduce the price of the Service relating to that feature or
      functionality, you may end this Agreement without being
      required to pay the Early Termination Fee.

      http://www.foxtel.com.au/cms/groups/webcontent/@fox[email protected][email protected]/documents/webcontent/p_000441.pdf

      This bit from the user agreement would appear to cover the situation? Wouldn't bother taking it to the TIO up first without trying Foxtel first.

    *shrug* in a month the fuss will die down, a total of two people will have cancelled their contracts and the couch-potatoes will be happily watching The Land Before Time IX.

      I agree. In fact I believe that the large majority of their user base will not care and they will continue to pay. I do think that Foxtel as a services really need to lift their game. The repeats alone during the holidays are just annoying. And what is it with Fox8 and The Simpsons and Family Guy? They need better programmers.

    How can people still use foxtel? I had it for a while on xbox but cancelled quickly, they just repeat the same shows and movies everyday. Just switch to netflix/hulu/amazon a lot cheaper and more content.

    I left foxtel a few years ago. The adnasium re-runs were annoying as well as the ever changing packages. Unless you had the premium it was a constant shuffle. Oddly the same reasons i held out on foxtel for years. I've always thought a better way to package foxtel would be to have the basic package you had to have. Then you could add services in 10, 20, 30 etc dollar block packages. Each extra channel would have a cost like 1,2,3,5 dollars and you could add them to a block package. A bit like saying I'd like a mix of $20 scratch and win tickets. You get to pick the extra channels, your favourites aren't separated when foxtel decide to play grinch and you don't have all these extra unwatched/unwanted in a package you had to get to get the 2 channels you wanted. Now they are fully digital surely this isn't difficult to do.

      The problem with that is that hardly anyone would want to subscribe to some of the channels. And if they dropped the unsustainable channels, then the service wouldn't sound as impressive.

      Better to spread the cost of the unpopular channels over the entire subscriber base :)

    I get 25% off Foxtel and have for the past 2 years (I have all channels + HD bar movies). Golden rule is be polite - always. If you're ever rude, the CSR could add a note to your account stating as such, and even if you request a discount a few years later, you could be declined because of that previous rudeness you showed.

    And not just Foxtel - everything. I get 15% off Internet/Home phone, get 10% my mobile contract (on BYO), get 10% of my electricity contract.

    Just don't be rude.

      I agree.

      But DO be firm. My Foxtel rep spent ages trying to talk me out of cancelling. At the end I had to say ''I've been fair and polite listened to your offers. I've made my requirements clear. Please now either reduce the price back to what I was paying, or cancel my subscription now. If you don't. I will call my credit card company and have them reject any further charges you make to my card. I plan to conclude this call within 3 minutes.''

      That worked.

    Hi,

    Just to clarify the statements regarding the TIO.

    The TIO has no jurisdiction regarding content on Foxtel, regardless of who provides the service (Telstra or otherwise.)

    They will refer you to your state based consumer affairs organisation. In NSW this is Fair Trading.

    You can also complain to ACMA, who do have jurisdiction. www.acma.gov.au

    Also, complaints to Fair Trading will go a long way. Most service providers will cancel a contract without penalty following a complaint.

    Your best bet if you really want out is:

    1. If you are on automatic debit from a credit card or bank account, contact the bank and have them cancel or reject any debit requests from Foxtel

    2. Contact Foxtel and advise them you are are cancelling the service based on:

    "If we withdraw a Channel during the Fixed Term which
    causes a more than nominal detrimental change to the
    Programming Package and we do not reduce the price of
    the Programming Package or replace the Channel with a
    similar genre Channel, you may end this Agreement without
    being required to pay the Early Termination Fee."

    The definition of "nominal detrimental change" is highly subjective and you would be successful in a court to argue that you were a big watcher of the removed service.

    Foxtel is now required to pursue you for money if they want their cancellation fee. They won't bother.

      Foxtel are thieves, the stole money from my account

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