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Many broadband and mobile firms are reportedly preparing to raise prices above the rate of inflation, with some set to add up to 3.9 percentage points on top of the official rate. Among the firms reported to be considering the hikes include BT, EE, Vodafone, Virgin Media, O2 and TalkTalk.
These “mid-contract” price increases to mobile phone and broadband contracts will take place from April and May 2023.
Existing customers with some of the UK’s biggest broadband and mobile phone companies will be collectively handed an overall bill worth £600million more than if contracts had kept with the cost of living, new reports suggest.
As it stands, the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation for December 2022 came to 10.5 percent.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will announce the January 2023 CPI on Wednesday, with some forecasting it will be at around 10.1 percent, under current estimates.
Telecommunications giants are able to use a variety of ways to determine their price hikes, partly taking into account inflation, through an agreed fixed term, which is not allowed for other expenses such as gas and electricity.
The Guardian reports that BT and Vodafone will add 3.9 percentage points to the rate of the December CPI.
Furthermore, Virgin Media is reportedly set to push an average 13.8 percent rate increase onto its customers, but they will be given a month to decide whether or not they want to leave.
Sometime this week, O2 will confirm by how much it will be raising the contracts on its products, based on January’s RIP inflation rate plus 3.9 percentage points.
If applied, the company’s customers could face a yearly contract rise north of 17 percent but the firm has confirmed it will be around nine to 10 percent due to it applying to calls and data only.
Calculations show that if these firms chose to cap their prices rises to the current level of inflation, UK consumers would save £600million.
Industry regulator Ofcom has been charged with investigating the growing trend of mid-contract price rises across the sector.
Customers are expected to be hit with £2billion extra in charges within the next year alone.
Alex Tofts, a broadband expert at Broadband Genie, explained: “This review of Ofcom is finally addressing the elephant in the room that is inflationary price rises.
“Consumers shouldn’t have to go through a crash course in the Consumer Price Index or Retail Price Index to budget for their broadband bills.
“The shame is that while inflation was running at four or five percent, this issue was largely kicked down the road — and it’s taken until inflation has reached record levels before Ofcom has decided to act. It will be no consolation to the millions of customers facing bills of up to 17.3 percent this spring.
“Broadband customers that are tied into a contract will largely be forced to bite the bullet in April if they are in contract with a provider that applies these annual rises. The only other option would be to pay an exit fee, which could cost hundreds of pounds.”
The broadband expert shared advice for those anxious of being stuck with a massive, unaffordable bill.
He added: “Yet where mid-contract rises are not currently specified in a contract, like Virgin Media broadband, customers can leave for free within 30 days of being told about a price increase. If you’re unsure of your provider’s rules, check your terms and conditions.
“This is the calm before the storm for people in contract and facing looming price rises, but now is a perfect time to get a new deal for those that are out of contract. Consumers switching to a new broadband package can save up to £315 over a year.”
Express.co.uk has reached out to BT, EE, Vodafone, Virgin Media, O2 and TalkTalk for comment.
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