Which? is calling on telecoms firms to halt any plans to press ahead with ‘unconscionable’ broadband and mobile price hikes in April, even after the industry regulator found the practice harms consumers and set out proposals to ban it.
Ofcom recently proposed a ban on the practice of inflation-linked mid-contract price rises, saying that they cause ‘substantial consumer harm’, but this will not come into effect before the next wave of expected hikes in April 2024.
Many providers appear ready to brazenly proceed, claims Which?, with next week’s CPI inflation announcement set to fire the starter gun on announcements of the latest round of eye-watering hikes for consumers. Many may have already endured increases of up to 17% last year.
Which? has today (Thursday, 11 January) written an open letter to big broadband and mobile providers – BT, EE, O2, PlusNet, Shell Energy Broadband, TalkTalk, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone – urging them to cancel any unfair and unpredictable price hikes planned for April this year. The letter has been published as a full-page national newspaper advert this morning.
Currently, millions of broadband and mobile customers who are under contract are trapped and at the mercy of providers, facing a lose-lose choice between increases that could leave some customers struggling to afford these essential services or facing punitive exit fees.
During a cost of living crisis when many households are struggling to make ends meet, Which? estimates that telecoms firms stand to generate more than £400 million from April’s mid-contract price hikes alone.
The consumer watchdog is calling for people to be given certainty about the total cost of their broadband and mobile contract when they sign up.
Says Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy:
“Millions of people face price rises they could never have predicted when they signed broadband or mobile contracts and may struggle to afford. Given the regulator has found inflation-linked mid-contract price rises harm consumers and set out proposals to ban them, it would be unconscionable for telecoms providers to proceed with these hikes.
“Telecoms firms must do the right thing – scrap their plans for unfair price hikes this April and end unpredictable in-contract price increases once and for all, so everyone can understand what they will pay when they sign up to a contract for these essential services.”