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Bills to be slashed for BT landline customers

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Up to a million BT landline-only customers will see their bills fall by £84 a year after the communications regulator stepped in following pricing concerns.

These customers will see their bills fall by £7 per month – saving them 37% – from April 2018.

The move comes as communications regulator, Ofcom, said these elderly and vulnerable landline-only customers have been getting “poor value for money in recent years” compared to those who buy bundles, made up of landline, broadband and/or pay TV services.

Of the UK’s 1.5 million landline-only customers, two-thirds are with BT. Ofcom said this position has allowed BT to increase prices – even when wholesale costs have been falling – without much risk of losing customers.

With 66% of land-line only customers are over 65 and 77% have never switched provider, the regulator stepped in to review the market and set out proposals to cut bills by £5 – £7 a month.

BT has agreed to reduce its monthly line rental price by £7, meaning that landline-only customers who currently pay £18.99 a month will pay £11.99 from April 2018, taking bills back to 2009 levels.

Ofcom confirmed that at least 800,000 of these landline-only customers won’t have to do anything to claim the price cut as it will appear on their bills automatically. These customers will also be protected from real-term price increases, with line rental and call costs capped at the rate of inflation.

A further 200,000 customers on BT’s ‘home phone saver’ package may also be eligible. This group of customers can choose to stay on their current package, or move to the standard product being cut, depending on which is the best deal for them.

As other providers followed BT’s pricing lead, Ofcom expects BT’s £7 price cut to lead to other providers following suit.

Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom’s competition group director, said: “For many people, their landline is their lifeline.

“But households who only have a landline – and no broadband – have seen their phone bills soar. Many are elderly, and have been with BT for decades. We’ve been clear that they must get a better deal. So, I’m pleased BT has responded to our plans in full by cutting these customers’ bills.”

A BT spokesperson, said: “We welcome a balanced voluntary agreement with Ofcom which means that up to 1m of our customers who don’t have broadband will receive a substantial cut in the price of their line rental from April 2018.

“We already offer low income customers on certain benefits a special tariff called ‘BT Basic’ and also offer Home Phone Saver that provides a great value bundle for customers who want a traditional phone service, with Anytime calls and other benefits.”

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