Broadband bills could rise by as much as £54 in April as some of the UK’s biggest telecommunications companies accelerate price increases that are destroying inflation.
Vodafone (VOD.L), TalkTalk (TK6.SG) and Plusnet customers could pay an additional £54.86, £54.22 and £52.67 a year respectively. Shell Energy Broadband (SHEL.L) customers saw the lowest increase in the group—but still up £49.51
Suppliers often link their annual price increases to the January Consumer Price Index (CPI) or Retail Price Index (RPI). Despite easing slightly this month, both are close to 40-year highs with the latest CPI at 10.5% and RPI at 13.4%.
BT (BT-AL), EE, Plusnet and Vodafone’s broadband contracts allow prices to increase by CPI plus 3.9%. On TalkTalk, it’s a CPI plus 3.7%, while Shell Energy can add a CPI plus 3%. Sky and Virgin Media’s contracts allow mid-contract price increases, but they do not define the pricing formula in the same way as rivals.
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BT confirmed 14.4% growth this year – CPI up 10.5% plus 3.9%.
Consumer group Which one? calls on suppliers to remove penalties for customers leaving mid-contract due to fears of imminent ‘exorbitant’ price increases or exit charges of over £200.
Rocio Concha, which one? director of policy and advocacy, said: “It is very worrying that many broadband customers may find themselves in a losing position where they will either have to accept exorbitant – and hard to justify – mid-contract price increases this spring or pay costly fees for leaving the contract early and finding a better deal.
Calls on suppliers to let their customers walk away without penalty if they are faced with mid-contract price increases. Suppliers should also carefully consider the level of possible price increases when many consumers are already under huge financial pressure.
“With so many households struggling to make ends meet, it’s completely unfair that people are trapped in this situation. Telecom providers must step up and play their part to support their customers during this cost of living crisis.”
Ofcom’s regulations state that telecoms providers must offer their customers the right to withdraw from their contract without penalty if they are subject to unexpected price increases that are not provided for in their contract.
A spokesperson for BT Consumer, covering BT, EE and Plusnet, said: “Following the announcement of the December 2022 CPI, we can confirm that our price change will take effect on March 31.
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“We expect the average customer to see price increases of around £1 per week. This price increase does not apply to all our customers. Pricing for over 3 million BT Home Essentials, EE Mobile Basics, PAYG, BT Basic, landline and Home Phone Saver customers will be frozen until 2023.
“While telecommunications bills are a small fraction of total average household spending, we know that it all adds up. We take seriously our responsibility to ensure our services are accessible to the widest possible range of customers through our market-leading social tariffs.
Here are the broadband and mobile companies that announced the highest price increases according to Money Saving Expert:
Broadband and mobile BT: 14.4%
EE broadband and mobile: 14.4%
Plusnet broadband and mobile: 14.4%
Shell broadband and mobile: up to 13.5%
Sky Mobile: 9% for no contract.
TalkTalk Broadband: 14.2% unless fixed price plus tariff.
Three broadband and mobile services: 4.5%/14.4% depending on the date of registration.
Vodafone: to be confirmed