Millions of broadband customers will be hit by price rises at almost double the rate of inflation from April, after December’s inflation figure unexpectedly rose to 4pc
BT customers are among those facing above-inflation price rises this year despite it pledging to scrap mid-contract, inflation-linked price rises from the summer. The former state monopoly and several other telecom companies fix their annual price increases against this month’s inflation data, plus a further 3.9pc. This means customers will see their monthly bills rise by 7.9pc in the spring.
Rivals Three and Vodafone both use a similar pricing structure, while TalkTalk customers face an increase of December’s inflation figure plus 3.7pc. Analysts at Uswitch said typical broadband customers were facing a £27.19 increase in their annual bills, while mobile customers would pay an average of £24.23 extra per year.
Says Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy:
“This announcement could trigger a new wave of price hikes from big broadband and mobile providers – just 12 months after firms imposed price increases of more than 14% on customers. It would be completely unacceptable for providers to follow BT and inflict another above-inflation increase on customers after Ofcom proposed banning this practice, saying it causes substantial consumer harm.
“Telecoms providers must step up and do the right thing by immediately scrapping any plans to hit their customers with above inflation price hikes this April.”
Meanwhile, BT has pledged to abandon inflation-linked mid-contract price rises after the telecoms watchdog Ofcom threatened to ban the practice. BT has announced it will introduce that change, but not until summer 2024. Instead according to a blog post from BT consumer chief Marc Allera BT mobile customers will see mid-contract price rises “from £1.50”, while broadband customers will face rises of £3.
Adds Which’s Rocio Concha:
“While it’s positive that BT is finally calling time on unpredictable inflation-linked price rises, it would be cynical to try to claim too much credit for a change they would likely have been forced to make later this year by Ofcom – after years of charging customers above-inflation price hikes that reached double digits at the height of the cost of living crisis.
“Meanwhile, new BT customers signing up between now and this summer will still be hit by unfair and unpredictable price hikes.