Three million TalkTalk customers are facing price hikes next month of up to £33/year for their broadband, phone and TV packages. But it's possible to beat the hikes – you can quit your contract penalty-free, swap to a cheaper 'fixed low price plan' or try to haggle a better deal.
TalkTalk is contacting customers to inform them about the price increases. Those affecting the monthly cost of packages and early termination fees will come into effect from Friday 4 November, while a separate raft of hikes to call charges will be introduced from Thursday 1 December.
The price rise announcement will be a bitter pill to swallow for some TalkTalk customers, with it coming just a year after a huge cyber-attack resulted in data belonging to 157,000 customers being compromised. This led to the telecoms giant being slapped with a record £400,000 fine by the Information Commissioner's Office last week.
Recently TalkTalk became one of the first broadband providers to scrap separate line rental charges for new customers. Anyone who's just joined TalkTalk on one of its new fixed low price plans WON'T be affected by the price rise.
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How and when are TalkTalk prices changing?
If you're currently on TalkTalk's 'simply broadband' package, its 'Essentials TV' package, or its 'Plus TV' package, you can expect to pay an extra £2.75/month as of 4 November (£1.25/mth more for line rental and £1.50/mth more for your broadband package) – this works out at £33 extra per year.
If you're an existing TalkTalk customer (and not on a new fixed low price plan) you'll be notified of the price hikes shortly – if you receive your bills through the post it'll be by post; if you receive your bills via email, it'll be by email.
Here's how monthly prices are changing:
|Package name||Previous price||New price from 4 Nov|
|Value line rental (for 12mths)||£191.16||£204.66|
|Value line rental (for 18mths)||£270.81||£289.93|
|Essentials TV (incl b'band)||£10||£11.50|
|Plus TV (incl b'band)||£20||£21.50|
Here's how call charges are changing:
|Package name||Previous price||New price from 1 Dec|
|Call connection fee||17p||18p|
|UK calling out of bundle||11.5p/min||12.5 p/min|
How to beat the hikes...
The good news is it's possible to take action now to avoid the price rises. Here's what to try:
1) Escape your contract penalty-free
If you're affected by the price hikes, you can choose to leave – and walk away from your contract without paying an exit fee.
You'll need to notify TalkTalk of your decision to leave within 30 days of receiving notification of the price hikes, online or on the phone.
If you choose to leave your contract after the 30-day period, you'll have to pay an early termination charge. These are also being increased, as follows:
|Package name||Previous price||New price from 4 Nov|
|Essential phone and broadband/Essentials TV||£15.31||£17.50|
|Plus phone and broadband/Plus TV||£22.97||£25.00|
The good news for anyone who's paid line rental upfront and has now been hit with increased call charges is that they'll be able to leave penalty-free within the 30 day notification period. Anyone that paid line rental upfront will also get a line rental refund (based on how far into their contract they are) if they choose to leave.
If they switch to a fixed low price plan, the paid line rental cost will be credited on their account.
2) Switch to a TalkTalk 'fixed low price plan'
As part of its move to merge line rental and broadband costs into one package, TalkTalk has introduced fixed low price plans (which combine line rental and broadband costs, along with other extras) that are billed as a cheaper alternative to existing rates.
Fixed low price plans are set at 18 months and TalkTalk says any customer who switches to the new plan will pay the same price for the length of their contract.
All existing customers will be allowed to switch to one of these new plans. However, it's important to note that TalkTalk says only around half of its existing customers can expect to avoid the incoming price hikes as a result. If you want to switch package it's always worth checking other providers as well – see our Cheap Broadband, Cheap Home Phones and Digital TV guides.
Some will be able to save with TalkTalk though:
- If you currently pay £25.20/mth for a simply broadband package, you can swap to the equivalent on a fixed low price plan for £22.95/mth on an 18-month contract.
- If you currently pay £30.45/mth for an Essentials TV package, you can swap to the equivalent on a fixed low price plan for £27.95/mth on an 18-month contract.
- If you currently pay £40.45/mth for a Plus TV package, you can swap to the equivalent on a fixed low price plan for £35.95/mth on an 18-month contract.
3) Haggle, haggle, haggle...
If you're not happy with the hikes and don't want to switch to a fixed low price plan, but are happy to stay with TalkTalk, it's well worth calling up and haggling – you could beat the price hikes and bag yourself a bargain. Price hikes are always powerful haggling ammunition – particularly if you have the right to leave penalty-free if firms won't play ball.
See our Haggle with TalkTalk guide for full step-by-step help, but here are five tips to get you started...
- Benchmark the best deal elsewhere so you ask for a realistic discount.
- Get through to the retentions (sometimes called disconnections) department, as they have the most power to slash costs as their job is to keep you.
- Use charm and be friendly. Aggression or anger will just put their back up.
- Don't panic if they call your bluff and say they'll disconnect you.
- Problems mean discounts, so if you've had issues with TalkTalk in the past – eg, slow broadband – politely tell it when you haggle.
Also watch Martin's How to Haggle video for more inspiration.
Why is TalkTalk putting prices up?
A statement on TalkTalk's website says: "In continuing to bring our customers the things that matter, like 100% totally unlimited broadband, investing in our network to increase internet speeds, free phone privacy features and more TV content, some of our prices are increasing.
"However, around half of our customers can avoid our price increase by switching to our brand new fixed low price plans and in many cases pay less than what they pay today."
Have other providers hiked prices recently?
TalkTalk isn't alone in increasing its rates in recent times – though this will be the third time in just 16 months that it has cranked up its prices. Here's what some other major providers have done recently:
- BT. About 10 million BT customers faced above-inflation price increases from 3 July, with the cost of line rental rising by £1/mth, some broadband packages increasing by up to 15% and BT Sport up 20%.
- Virgin Media. Some 5.2 million Virgin Media home phone, broadband and TV customers will see prices rise by an average of 5.1% from November.
- Plusnet. Plusnet hiked its home phone and broadband prices for a second consecutive year, with some customers paying up to £30/year more from 1 September.
- Sky. Millions of Sky TV customers were hit by a price hike in June, with the cost for some going up by up to £72/year.