Mobile phone and broadband bills will jump by well above the rate of inflation for millions in the next week, even if they are in the middle of a contract.
The industry regulator, Ofcom, allows these mega-profitable firms to raise prices once a year – not just in line with inflation, but with a 3.9 per cent lump added on top.
This will result in a rise of over 14 per cent on bills, and, in some cases, as much as 17.3 per cent.
In most cases, you can’t just quit your contract without paying a penalty – it’s in the small print.
Superhighway robbery: Ofcom rules will allow a rise of over 14 per cent on bills, and, in some cases, as much as 17.3 per cent (Sid James, file image)
However, standing alone among the big providers, Virgin Media – with a rise 13.8 per cent – is giving customers a 30-day option to quit and move elsewhere.
On average, households will see a rise of £11.25 per month after the 14.4 per cent price hike that the likes of BT are applying in April. Customers will add around £1.4 billion to the coffers of the UK’s major broadband providers as a result of the increased prices, too.
Our Wealth & Personal Finance team have been campaigning against the ‘bill hike charade’.
Now household-finance app Nous.co is calling for these unreasonable mid-contract price rises to be outlawed. The whole system is now under review.
Its CEO and founder, Greg Marsh, said: ‘It’s outrageous that Ofcom sanctions these massive rises, especially in a cost-of-living crisis. It was morally wrong when inflation was low but, now the consumer prices index is above ten per cent, it’s nothing short of legalised superhighway robbery.’
Don’t get caught out by the mid-contract price hikes
Check if this applies to your deals now. You may not be able to do much about it if it does, but at least you will know what to expect: forewarned is forearmed.
But, before you panic, not all providers do it. Full-fibre broadband challenger Hyperoptic never hit its customers with mid-contract hikes and are actively campaigning against the practice.
Some providers, such as Giffgaff and Smarty, sell one-month rolling contracts which aren’t impacted by inflation-based price hikes.
Find out if your mobile provider is bumping up prices in April, how it compares to other providers and how much it’s going to cost you with a tool at nous.co/mobile-hikes.
Ditch the giant providers for lesser-known ones
It can be tempting to opt for household names such as O2, EE and Virgin Mobile. But you can often get comparable speeds and identical coverage from lesser-known networks, such as Voxi, Giffgaff, Smarty and iD Mobile.
The same goes for broadband in some areas, although a few of the smaller firms only operate in certain areas of the UK. Hyperoptic, for instance, covers about a million homes in the UK. It’s always worth checking to see what is available where you live.
Can you get a social tariff to slash broadband costs?
Social tariffs are cheaper broadband rates available for anyone on Universal Credit or a range of similar benefits.
Big-name providers such as BT, Sky, Virgin Media and Now offer them. Despite this fewer than 3.5 per cent of eligible households take advantage.
A social tariff can cost as little as £15 a month compared to an average cost of about £35.
It is true that the social tariff offers fairly basic broadband, but it should be good enough unless you have a house full of avid gamers.
Find the fastest and cheapest broadband – and see if you can save
Broadband, TV and phone contracts are notoriously sticky, with customers often allowing deals to run on for many years while providers raise prices.
But it may be possible for you to get faster broadband, a better TV package and an improved phone deal, while saving money each month.
It is always worth comparing prices to see if you can save – particularly as the cost of living crisis bites.
This is Money has partnered with Broadband Choices to offer readers the chance to easily search for the best and cheapest deals for their broadband, mobile and TV.
> Can you save? Compare broadband, TV and phone deals
Make the switch to a SIM-only mobile deal
If you’re happy with your current phone and don’t need a shiny new version, then consider getting a SIM-only deal. These are cheaper as you’re only paying for the data and minutes you actually use and not the cost of the phone.
If you did want a new phone then buying it outright is still often cheaper than going through a monthly contract deal. Even better, you could consider getting a refurbished phone – from a reputable seller or trader with a guarantee (such as eBay and Amazon). They are often great value.
Prepare to haggle with your current network
Shop around to find the best deals and, once you’re happy that you’ve done your research, start negotiating with your provider.
There’s no guarantee that they’ll give you a better deal, but it’s always worth a shot. Be prepared – that means seeing what prices are on offer elsewhere. If they’re cheaper than your current tariff, you’ve got some real ammunition to work with.
Most phone and broadband firms have a retentions department whose job it is to stop customers walking away. Staff there will have access to better deals and discounts than anywhere else. Be polite, but insistent and threaten to leave. You don’t actually have to leave – just say you need to consult with the other half and that you’ll ring back. It’s worth trying if you’re with Virgin Media and have its 30-day option to quit.
Don’t pay for more mobile data than you really need
When it comes to mobiles, millions of people are paying for hefty data allowances they never use.
Studies show the average Brit gets through 4.5GB of data per month, but many are paying for much more than this.
Speak to your provider to find out how much you’re really using each month and make a note to switch to a cheaper deal with a lower data allowance as soon as you can.
Use renewal reminders to track contract end dates
Millions of people are out of contract for their mobile and broadband and will likely be overpaying by not switching to a better deal.
Your provider must tell you when your contract is ending, but people often miss the notifications (or see them and then forget to follow them up).
Websites such as nous.co remind you for free when your mobile contract is up for renewal, giving you the time to search around for better deals or haggle with your provider.
Utilise providers’ caps on your spending
Some mobile providers let you choose a cap on your bill, which means you cannot spend anything over the monthly amount agreed in your contract. This can prevent you from racking up an unexpected, expensive bill.
The hottest new way to cut laundry costs? An air dryer
Forget air fryers… the new must-have is an ‘air dryer’, an alternative to a tumbler dryer that costs a fraction to run.
But you might get a bit hot under the collar trying to find one.
They are now so popular that one store sold its stock – which would normally last six months – in just weeks.
As energy bills soar, people are looking for ways to clean and dry their clothes more cheaply, including with air dryers (file image)
Until last year the gadgets, which look like normal clothes racks but have heated rails, had a small loyal following.
But soaring energy bills and rave reviews on money-saving sites have changed that.
Top seller is the Dry:Soon 3-Tier Heated Airer, pictured left, priced at £199.99. It costs about 15p an hour to run at today’s electricity prices, and users can dry up to 15kg of washing, with a load costing about 45p. A tumble dryer costs about £2 to dry a load.
A smaller version of the Dry:Soon 3-Tier Heated Airer costs £129.99.
High Street kitchenware store Lakeland previously sold a few thousand every few months but, as power prices surged, sold its entire winter stock in a few weeks.
Owing to production delays in the factories where they are made in the Far East, it wasn’t able to get new stock until this year.
It is now receiving several hundred a week but sells out within days.
Such is the buzz about them that air dryer fans these days take to social media to share information about when they are back in stock.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk