There’s more bad news incoming for mobile phone contract holders. If you weren’t already fed up of the lack of signal and coverage, range of tariffs and excessive charges for going over your data allowance, you certainly won’t like this one: price hikes. Yes, that’s right, your mobile phone providers are planning to increase the price of your tariff, mid-way through your contract. Let’s look at what’s happening and how you can avoid it!
Contracts can be a great way to get the latest smartphone without having to pay the latest prices. You pay a monthly fee and in exchange you get a tariff of minutes, texts and data to enjoy. However, there have been more and more cases recently of disgruntled customers getting annoyed with their network for one reason or another. In this instance, it’s all about the mid-contract price rises.
So, why is this happening? Well, it’s all to do with the February rate of inflation. Prices will only be increased by 1.1%, which is equivalent to the rate of inflation. You may be thinking, is my network actually allowed to do this? and the answer is yes. The ruling applies to contracts that were signed on or before the 23rd January 2014. Anyone who has purchased a contract after this date will have it written into their contract that the tariff price cannot be increased, due to a rule put in place by the industry regulator Ofcom. So, good news for new customers, but bad news for older ones.
What does it mean for O2 customers?
The O2 Tariffs affected are: the O2 Refresh Airtime Plan (but not the device plan, which has a separate agreement for the handset), SIM only, standard and mobile broadband tariffs are also affected. If you are on a SIM only tariff, or one of its non-refresh pay monthly plans and you pay £28 per month, your bill will rise to £28.30 a month from April onwards. Call bundle charges will also increase. The cost of voice calls in the UK will also rise from 40p to 45p , whilst international calls will rise depending on the area that you are attempting to call.
Although the price rises are not that high, if you feel particularly disgruntled with them, you are allowed to terminate your contract without fear of penalty providing that you signed up on or before the 23rd January 2014, under a new rule put in place by Ofcom.
An expert’s opinion…
A telecoms expert from USwitch.com has offered advice on how to get out of those troublesome price hiked contracts. He said that whilst Ofcom has done its best to protect users from increased prices, contract users are still subject to annual price rises, and most customers are made aware of the mid contract increases when they sign up, you can still get out of the contracts. The expert recommends checking the costs of things outside your bundle, so if for example you make a lot of international calls and the prices have increased substantially, you can claim for ‘material detriment’ and put forward your case for leaving the network.
So, if you are affected by price hikes and you want to switch, who should you switch to? Well, both Three mobile and Tesco mobile make a price promise to customers, so it may be worth looking into them to see if they offer the right tariff for you. However, it is important not to paint O2 as the sole villain, as EE, Orange and T-Mobile added 2.7% to their bills last year, with Virgin mobile also adding on 2.5 per cent.
Unfortunately, it seems that in a world where the rate of inflation is constantly changing, price increases are inevitable. The best advice is to check your contract before you sign!