The 14.4 per cent figure derives from the current consumer price index measurement of inflation, which is 10.5 per cent, plus up to 3.9 per cent.
BT has said its prices will increase by 14.4 per cent from March 31. This increase also affects EE and Plusnet subscribers, as these companies are part of BT Group. Vodafone will adopt the same increase, according to its website.
These are in-contract price rises, so will affect not only those looking for a new deal but also almost anyone using these services.
However, it won’t apply to those on plans such as EE’s Home Basics or BT Home Essentials, which are available to those on “specific state benefits”.
Three says those who joined or upgraded their contract between October 29, 2020 and October 31, 2022 will see their monthly costs rise by a much less intimidating 4.5 per cent.
However, last November the company announced a switch to price increases linked to inflation. Those who joined Three or changed their plan from November will find their costs increasing by 14.4 per cent, just like BT customers.
TalkTalk will increase its prices by 14.2 per cent, just fractionally lower than that of its key competitors. Virgin Media, meanwhile, has announced rises of up to 14.4 per cent for broadband customers.
We have approached Sky for details on how its mobile and broadband prices will be affected.
Tackling broadband and mobile price increases
Culture Secretary Michelle Donlan has spoken out against these significant rises, according to the FT. “At a time when families are struggling to pay their bills, imposing above-inflation price hikes is not the right thing to do,” she said on Wednesday.
In late 2022, Ofcom launched an investigation into EE, amid concerns the mobile phone service and broadband provider did not make these mid-contract price increases clear enough when signing up for a deal.
Which?’s director of policy and advocacy, Rocio Concha, has suggested consumers should be allowed to leave their contract, even if these increases were part of the T+Cs on sign-up.
She says these providers should “allow customers to leave their contract without penalty if prices are hiked mid-contract — regardless of whether or not these increases can be said to be ‘transparent’ — and to carefully consider what level of mid-contract price hikes can be justified”.
There may be no easy way to get around these price increases for many. While other mid-contract price rises can be used as a reason to leave, these inflation-linked ones are usually baked into the terms of the deal.
What can you do to pay less?
First things first: Virgin Media customers are entitled to walk away, due to price increases not being written into current contracts. As long as customers serve notice within 30 days of being informed of the price rise, they are free to leave even if mid-contract, the company has advised.
But Virgin Media is an exception, and most of those under contract will just have to accept the new price. If you’ve completed the minimum term (usually 12, 18 or 24 months), however, there’s nothing to stop you from negotiating a lower price before the rise kicks in – potentially leaving you paying less in April than you are now.
First, check to see if you are indeed out of contract. You can either find the original paperwork, or log in to your online account to check. If all else fails, phone up your provider and ask.
Once you’ve established you are out of contract, it’s time to strengthen your hand with a little research. Load our broadband comparison tool to see what offers are available in your area. If you’ve been with your provider a while, you may be surprised at the low prices broadband suppliers will offer to ensnare new customers. Make a note of the best deals and get ready to haggle.
Phone up your provider and tell them that you’re looking to cancel. You will probably then be redirected to the customer retention department – a team of people whose job it is to get you to stay. This is where you can really negotiate: explain that the price of broadband has got too high, and point to the deals you have been able to find in your area. You may well have found your provider offers a better deal to new customers too, so feel free to throw that little tidbit in there as well.
Don’t get angry: stay calm, use charm and be friendly. Also, don’t feel you have to accept the first offer they provide – especially if you’d be happy with another provider in your area. If they do ultimately call your bluff and say they’re disconnecting you (and you don’t want to leave) say you need to check in with your housemate or partner and try again. You may get a different operator who feels more generous.
This technique tends to work well but, if you really are getting nowhere, then you may want to consider switching suppliers anyway. And remember that your contract ending is your moment to get a better deal – even if prices haven’t risen significantly.