Broadband customers across Britain were already hit with massive mid-contract bill rises earlier this year and now more are on their way. In fact, consumer group Which? is warning that bills could be around £150 more expensive than at the start of a contract due to these eye-watering hikes.
Suppliers such as BT, EE and Vodafone all raised costs by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus an additional percentage placed on top. This meant some customers saw things rocket by over 13 percent in 2023. Virgin Media has also now confirmed it will begin doing something similar next year with Which? warning that Virgin users could be hit by a massive 10 per cent increase to their monthly bills next spring.
That’s based on Which?’s latest broadband survey and analysis of Bank of England inflation forecasts.
In an email sent to users, Virgin confirmed: “From April 2024, we’re doing things differently, so any price rise to your package will be made at the same time every year. This’ll be linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of inflation plus an additional 3.9% – which means the amount of any increase will be clearer, sooner.”
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BT, Vodafone and EE users are also likely to face extra costs of over 8 percent next year – something Which? feels shouldn’t be allowed.
“Which? believes it is unfair – and in some cases, potentially unlawful – for consumers to be signed up to deals which do not give them any certainty about how much they can expect to pay over the course of their contract and then face punitive exit fees if they want to leave early,” the consumer group said.
Ofcom is currently reviewing inflation-linked, mid-contract price rises amid concerns that they do not give consumers sufficient certainty and clarity about what they can expect to pay. It is due to publish its consultation on this issue in December.
Ahead of that decision, Which? is launching its ‘The Right to Connect’ campaign calling on all providers to do the right thing and stop this practice ahead of Ofcom’s final decision, to ensure that customers are not impacted by similar unpredictable price rises next April.
Here’s how the current price hikes may have affected your bill
BT & EE
BT and EE customers who took out a contract in January 2023 could see some of the highest average price hikes of £147.43 and £147.31 across the course of their contract.
Virgin Media did not use inflation-linked price hikes in 2023 but some customers’ prices did increase by an average of 13.8 per cent due to ad hoc price rises.
VODAFONE & PLUSNET
Vodafone and Plusnet customers could see rises of £122.38 and £117.87 respectively.
TalkTalk customers could see a smaller hike of £76.09 on average over the course of shorter 18 month contracts.
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Speaking about the issue, Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: “From working and school to online banking and social media, a good broadband and mobile connection is essential to everyday modern life.
“That’s why it’s outrageous that unpredictable mid-contract price hikes have been allowed to continue in the telecoms industry for so long – especially when so many have been struggling to make ends meet during the cost of living crisis. Consumers must have certainty about the total cost of their contract.
“Which? is calling on all providers to do the right thing and cancel 2024’s above inflation price hikes. Ofcom should also use their review to finally ban these unpredictable mid-contract price hikes that harm consumers and undermine competition. Consumers need to know exactly how much their contract will cost when they sign up.”
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