Broadband bills could surge by as much as £54 this April as some the UK’s biggest telecoms firms push ahead with inflation-busting price increases.
Vodafone (VOD.L), TalkTalk (TK6.SG) and Plusnet customers could pay an extra £54.86, £54.22 and £52.67 a year respectively. Shell Energy Broadband (SHEL.L) customers could see the lowest increase of this group — but still a rise of £49.51
Providers often link their annual price rises to January’s consumer price index (CPI) or the retail price index (RPI). Despite a slight easing this month, both are near the highest they’ve been for 40 years, with the latest CPI at 10.5% and RPI at 13.4%.
BT (BT-A.L), EE, Plusnet and Vodafone broadband contracts allow prices to go up by CPI plus 3.9%. At TalkTalk, it is CPI plus 3.7%, while Shell Energy can add CPI plus 3%. Sky and Virgin Media contracts allow mid-contract price increases but they do not stipulate a pricing formula in the same way as rivals.
BT has confirmed an increase this year of 14.4% — CPI of 10.5% plus 3.9%.
Consumer group Which? is calling on providers to drop penalties for customers leaving mid-contract amid concerns of impending “exorbitant” price rises or exit fees of more than £200.
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.”
Ofcom rules state that telecoms 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.
A spokesman for BT Consumer, covering BT, EE and Plusnet, said: “With the December 2022 CPI rate now announced, we can confirm our price change will be going ahead on 31 March.
“We expect the average customer will see their price rise around £1 per week. This price rise doesn’t apply to all our customers. Over 3 million customers across our BT Home Essentials, EE Mobile Basics, PAYG, BT Basic, landline-only and Home Phone Saver will have their prices frozen through 2023.
“Although telecoms bills remain a small fraction of total average household spend, we know that everything adds up. We take seriously our responsibility to ensure our services are accessible to the widest group of customers possible through our market leading social tariffs.
Here are the broadband and mobile firms that have announced the highest price hikes according to Money Saving Expert:
BT broadband and mobile: 14.4%
EE broadband and mobile: 14.4%
Plusnet broadband and mobile: 14.4%
Shell broadband and mobile: Up to 13.5%
Sky Mobile: 9% for out-of-contract.
TalkTalk broadband: 14.2% unless on a fixed price plus tariff.
Three broadband and mobile: 4.5%/14.4% depending on when you signed up.