Broadband bills up £222 in a year after price hikes
The majority of telecoms providers increased prices in April, putting more pressure on households who are already struggling to cope with rising prices.
On average, broadband bills have risen by £18.50 per month while mobile phone bills are up £9.50, according to comparison website, Uswitch.
There are 27 million home broadband connections and over 60 million pay-monthly mobile phone subscriptions in the UK.
Over a quarter of those asked by the website said they were angry about the price hikes while 21% were worried about rising costs.
Most providers are allowed to increase prices when a customer is midway through their contract. These are written into the terms and conditions and are usually set to a specific flat rate, of around 3 or 4%, and are tied into levels of inflation. This year because inflation has been so high for so long, many people saw hikes of 17%.
Following criticism from many organisations that price hikes this high would not be appropriate during a cost-of-living crisis, and that they are unfair because prices shouldn’t change during a fixed contract, the process is now being investigated by the regulator, Ofcom.
Millions are unaware when their contracts end
The research also showed that 12 million broadband customers and 11 million mobile phone customers do not know when their bill is due to end.
Five million customers said they rely on reminders from their provider to switch to a new deal while 19% wait for the contract to automatically renew onto a more expensive deal.
This means they could potentially overpay for the service if prices rise after an initial fixed-term contract period.
The main reason given for not knowing when a contract was due to end, given by 16% of respondents, was having too many bills to keep track of while 15% said they found it too hard to keep on top of life admin.
The website is urging people to find out the day they can switch from their provider. From this date, they can switch to another provider, if they find a cheaper or better deal. Yet there is usually a notice period of around 30 days, so notice needs to be given in advance to avoid paying more.
‘Customers don’t simply have to accept monthly bills going up’
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch.com, said: “In a cost-of-living crisis, broadband and mobile customers don’t simply have to accept monthly bills going up by £18.50 and £9.50 to stay connected.
“If you’re out of contract, you don’t have to accept any of these price rises. Not only can you switch to a potentially faster and more suitable plan right away, you could also pay less per month.
“If you’re still mid-contract, it’s really important to know when your contract is coming to an end. Not only can you avoid overpaying, you can also plan ahead, shop around and avoid getting sucked in by the promise of an upgrade from your existing providers. There’s often better value elsewhere as a new customer.
“If you are happy with your current provider, it’s still worth doing your research and comparing the latest deals. There’s often room for negotiation – and significant potential savings – if you’re satisfied with their service.”