BT has today confirmed it's hiking home phone and broadband prices for millions of customers from December, as first revealed by MoneySavingExpert.com on Thursday.
The telecoms giant is this weekend informing its customers about a raft of line rental and broadband price rises – some by up to 6.5% – from 1 December. (See our Cheap Home Phones and Cheap Broadband guides for the best buys.)
On Thursday morning, MoneySavingExpert.com told users to brace themselves for price hikes, though at the time, BT refused to confirm or deny this information (see the BT to announce price hikes this weekend MSE News story).
It has now confirmed the following price increases:
- Standard line rental for direct debit customers – £16.99/month, up from £15.99/month (6.25% increase).
- Line rental saver – £169.90 (equivalent of £14.15/month) for new and renewing customers who pay for the year upfront, up from £159.84/year (equivalent of £13.32/month).
- Broadband prices – will increase by as much as 6.49% (incl broadband + unltd weekend calls package at £13.80/month, up from £13 and BT Infinity 1 + unltd weekend calls package at £19.15, up from £18).
- Calls to UK landlines and 0870 numbers – 9.58p/minute, up from 9p/minute (6.44% increase).
- Call return – 21.19p, up from 19.9p (6.48% increase).
- Unlimited anytime call plan (on top of line rental) – £7.45/month, up from £7/month (6.42% increase).
- Set-up fee for landline calls – 15.97p, up from 15p (6.46% increase).
- Residential calls to the Timeline speaking clock – 38.97p, up from 36.6p (6.47% increase).
BT adds that its "high profile" broadband offers will stay the same price and the cost of BT Basic, the phone service for low-income customers, will remain at £5.10/month with a call allowance.
Guy Anker, managing editor of MoneySavingExpert.com, says: "It's standard practice for companies such as BT to increase their prices every year, though it's nevertheless a huge wrench for millions of customers.
"Yet the news is also a big trigger for any home phone and broadband customer to urgently check they're on the best possible deal. Millions pay more than £300 a year for phone and broadband but it's possible to slice these costs in half."
Can I leave my contract?
Under regulator Ofcom's rules, customers who take out a line rental, TV, broadband or mobile contract from 23 January 2014 onwards can cancel their contract penalty free if a provider ups prices mid-term and it hadn't warned you about the rise when you bought the contract.
If you signed your contract before 23 January 2014, your only option is to argue the price increase is of "material detriment" under Ofcom's old rules – although there's no set definition of what constitutes material detriment.
If you complain and don't get a satisfactory response within eight weeks, you can take the matter to the relevant ombudsman. In BT's case, this would be the Ombudsman Services.
However BT's own terms and conditions go further than this. It says all customers can leave penalty free as a result of these price rises as long as they tell it within 30 days of receiving notification of the changes.
If you want to stick with BT it's currently just over £30 cheaper to pay for its line rental, which includes free weekend calls, a year in advance.
BT's basic line rental saver costs £159.84, which is the equivalent of £13.32/month. If you want to switch, see our Cheap Broadband guide for the best buys.
BT is the latest in a line of big telecoms providers to have recently announced price hikes.
- Plusnet: From 23 September Plusnet is upping line rental, line rental saver and a number of home phone packages and call costs. See the Plusnet to hike phone costs MSE News story for the full details.
- Sky: From 1 September Sky is upping certain TV package prices by up to £30/year. See the Sky TV customers face £30/year price rise MSE News story for more information.
- TalkTalk: On 9 August TalkTalk upped its value line rental for the second time this year. It last increased value line rental in April. See the TalkTalk hikes value line rental MSE News story.
- Virgin Media: From 1 October Virgin Media broadband only customers will see their bills rise by £1.50/month. See the Virgin Media broadband customers face price rise MSE News story for more details.
BT is also upping the price of BT Sport for standard definition customers from 1 October, taking prices from £12/month to £13.50/month. HD costs £3 extra on top of this.
What does BT say?
BT consumer chief executive John Petter says: "BT is sensitive to the tough economic times and we've taken care to make sure that low-income customers avoid price increases.
"We've added extra money-saving options for low-income customers and for customers who only want a phone line for calls. Although some prices have gone up, we want to help our customers to find the best value BT option with Right Plan.
"We are introducing extra ways for customers to maximise their savings, such as the UK's cheapest line and broadband bundle for low-income customers and Home Phone Saver for customers who just want a great value standalone telephone package."