UK broadband bills are about to rocket with some homes being by hit hikes of over 14 percent. That’s one of the biggest rises ever and will leave a customer currently paying £60 per month facing a new bill of over £68. A number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) including BT, EE and Vodafone have all confirmed hikes of over 14 percent which will kick in from the spring.
With budgets already stretched, it’s a worrying time for consumers and many may face a massive penalty if they try and cut down on their monthly costs.
Experts, including Martin Lewis, are urging broadband users to switch their broadband plans and get a better deal ahead of the hikes. Some firms including BT, Sky and Virgin Media all have big January sale events going on right now and dropping costs now means you’ll pay less when increases come into force.
That advice makes perfect sense but there is a problem for anyone who is currently in the middle of their existing contract as most ISPs charge an early exit fee which can be as much £200. That high price will make it tough for people to leave their supplier and consumer champion Which? is now campaigning to end this practice.
Which? is calling on telecoms firms to let customers leave without penalty if prices are hiked mid-contract, as new research shows that many broadband customers are trapped in a lose-lose situation.
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Staying means paying much higher monthly bills but leaving could land them with a massive one-off payment.
Which? says it has calculated the exit fee the average customer of each provider with 12 months remaining on their contract would face if they left early with BT customers facing the highest exit fees of £219.04.
Current Ofcom rules state that telecom providers must offer their customers the right to exit their contract penalty-free if they are subject to unexpected price rises which are not provided for in their contract.
However, because mid-contract price rises are written into the terms and conditions of many contracts, Ofcom’s rule is that in those cases the customer does not have the right to exit penalty free.
Ofcom is currently investigating whether in-contract price rises were set out clearly enough by phone and broadband companies before customers signed up. We will have to wait and see what the outcome of that report but, right now, it seems many will simply have to face those higher prices or stump up the penalty.
Speaking about the issue Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: “It’s hugely concerning that many broadband customers could find themselves trapped in a lose-lose situation where they either have to accept exorbitant – and difficult to justify – mid-contract price hikes this Spring or pay costly exit fees to leave their contract early and find a better deal.
“Which? is calling on providers to let their customers leave without penalty if they face mid-contract price hikes. Providers should also carefully consider the level of any price rises when many consumers are already under huge financial pressure.
“With many households struggling to make ends meet, it is completely unfair that people are trapped in this situation. Telecoms providers need to step up and play their part to support their customers through the cost of living crisis.”
Although not all suppliers have announced their price rises yet, some have confirmed what customers will pay from the spring.
Here are all the hikes coming soon.
CONFIRMED BROADBAND RISES
BT 10.5% CPI + 3.9% = 14.4%
EE 10.5% CPI + 3.9% = 14.4%
Plusnet 10.5% CPI + 3.9% = 14.4%
Vodafone 10.5% CPI + 3.9% = 14.4%
TalkTalk 10.5% CPI + 3.7% = 14.2%
Shell Energy 10.5% CPI + 3% = 13.5%