About 10 million BT broadband, phone and TV customers will be hit with inflation-busting price rises of up to 7% from 20 September. Now's the last chance for large numbers to switch elsewhere penalty-free.
While ditching BT won't be best for everyone, for those who want to do so without charge, you've got 30 calendar days from notification to tell BT you're switching, where you'll be required to give 14 calendar days' notice to leave.
The telecoms giant has been telling customers about its price hikes via post or email in batches since 25 July. So it's too late for the first lot (if so, our full tips below will still help), while depending on when you got notification, the clock may also be ticking fast. BT says the last batch of customers should have been told on 20 August.
See our Cheap Home Phones and Cheap Broadband guides for the best buys if you want to switch.
How prices will rise from 20 September
Here's what's happening for existing customers:
- Line rental increases: Standard line rental rises from £16.99/month to £17.99/month and line rental saver (where you pay for a year upfront) from £183.48/year to £194.28/year.
- Call costs and call packages up: Many packages of inclusive calls are up, eg, unlimited anytime calls to landlines from £7.45/month to £7.95/month if you signed up on or before 20 June 2014. Costs outside a package have also risen such as calls to landlines from 9.58p/minute to 10.24p/minute or 12.77p/minute to 13.65p/minute to mobiles.
- Broadband rises: BT has multiple packages, which will rise by a maximum of 6.94% a month. To check your price, enter your details on BT's website. For example, the broadband and weekend calls package increases from £13/month to £13.90/month.
- TV packages up: They'll rise by 30p/month-£1/month depending on which package you have.
These are just the headline changes, for a full list of hikes, see BT's website.
The move follows more than five million BT Sport customers either being automatically opted into paying up to £141/year when they previously got it 'free', or facing a steep price rise soon. We've written a separate Beat the BT Sport hike guide for full info on this.
Five steps to beat the BT hikes
1. Ditch and switch. You can leave penalty-free.
BT is largely duty bound to allow existing customers to cancel their contract penalty-free because rules from regulator Ofcom state providers must allow this if they haven't informed customers of the price rise when they signed up.
If you want to switch to another provider penalty free, BT says you've got 30 calendar days from notification to tell BT you're switching, where you'll be required to give 14 calendar days' notice to leave.
If you want to cancel your contract completely without switching to a new provider, you've got 30 calendar days from notification to tell BT you're switching, where you'll be required to give 30 calendar days' notice to leave.
See our Cheap Home Phones, Cheap Broadband and Digital TV Deals guides for more best buys, and sign up to our weekly email to get the latest offers.
BT adds that customers won't be charged for their "hub" (router) if leaving due to the price rises. However, if you have line rental saver, while you can cancel this and other elements you have with BT penalty free, you won't be refunded any unused months left on your line rental saver contract.
2. Want to stick with BT? Paying line rental upfront cuts costs.
Standard monthly line rental will cost £17.99/month (£215.88 per year) from 20 September. But if you can afford to pay upfront, choose BT's line rental saver* option where you pay in one go for the whole year.
And if you do that before 20 September you can lock in for the year at the current £183.48 price (£194.28/year after 20 September), vastly undercutting standard line rental.
The best prices are usually reserved for new customers, so existing ones lose out on cracking deals. But if you're willing to take the haggle challenge, you could beat a price hike.
In our latest service provider haggle poll, 70% of BT customers polled said they had a success haggling and we've heard many success stories, such as forumite TonyNannini: "Sent BT an email to ask for my MAC code, received a call today cutting £220 per year off my phone and broadband package with an upgrade to unlimited broadband. Shows what can be done with an email."
See our guide on how to haggle with BT, here are five tips to start...
- 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 BT in the past – eg, slow broadband – politely tell it when you haggle.
Also watch Martin's How to Haggle video for more inspiration.
4. If you want to call, use override providers.
With a no-frills override provider, you dial a prefix or access number to connect to its service, then pay its cost, often just via your BT bill.
This can cut costs from 5p/min to 5p/call, and slash mobile rates. Full details in our Override Providers section.
5. Use mobile minutes or call web-to-web for free.
To cut call costs, why pay for a call if you don't have to? So if you've inclusive mobile minutes then use those instead of paying for a BT call.
Also, if you and the person you're calling are both online and have the same special app or web service (eg, Skype, Viber, Facetime or WhatsApp), you can call for free, no matter where in the world you both are.
Do note, there may be charges for using the internet if you are not on WiFi or you're not using unlimited WiFi.
You can do this using a smartphone, tablet or PC. See our Free Web Calls guide for more info.
Have other providers hiked prices?
It's not just BT that's hiking prices. Here's a summary of price hikes the other major telecoms providers have recently announced:
- Virgin Media upped prices for customers with Sky Sports or Movies from 1 June.
- TalkTalk hiked broadband, TV and home phone prices from 1 July.
- Sky TV customers face up to 10% price hike from 1 September.
- Plusnet is hiking home phone and line rental prices from 2 September.
You can also use the haggling tips above to try to beat these hikes.