Millions of Vodafone pay-monthly customers will see out-of-allowance charges increase by up to 94% next month. But if you're affected, you may be able to leave your contract penalty-free and find a better deal, or beat the hike by haggling.
Vodafone is currently contacting customers about the steep price rises, which will come into effect on 23 July and apply to out-of-allowance calls and texts and other charges.
It comes after MoneySavingExpert.com earlier this month urged all Vodafone customers to check their bills and bank statements ASAP, after a surge in billing complaints. See our Vodafone Warning guide for full info.
What prices are going up?
On 23 July pay-monthly Vodafone customers will see a range of out-of-allowance costs rise, with the price of UK text messages up a whopping 94%. (Pay-as-you-go customers aren't affected.) For a full list see the Vodafone website – here are the key changes:
Vodafone pay-monthly out-of-allowance price rises
|Out-of-bundle service||Cost before 23 July||Cost from 23 July|
|Calls to UK mobiles, landlines & voicemail||45p/min||55p/min|
|UK text messages||18p/text||35p/text|
|UK picture messages||45p/message||55p/message|
|'Freefone' numbers starting 0500||45p/min||55p/min|
|Calls to 08, 09 and 118 service numbers||Access charge of 45p/min + service charge (1)||Access charge of 55p/min + service charge (1)|
|International calls to its 'Europe Zone'||£1/min||£1.50/min|
|International calls to rest of the world||£1.50/min||£2/min|
|One-minute-minimum call charge applies. (1) Service charge depends on the number you're calling and should be advertised alongside it.|
Vodafone already charged the most of the major networks for out-of-bundle texts, and most for calls jointly with O2, which charges 45p/min and 15p/text once you exceed your allowance. This upcoming price increase pushes Vodafone way out in front as the most expensive network for out-of-allowance calls and texts.
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Can I leave my contract penalty-free?
It depends whether you regularly use the out-of-bundle services that are going up in price:
- If you DON'T regularly use out-of-bundle services... In most cases you WON'T be able to leave penalty-free. Unfortunately while Ofcom rules let you escape penalty-free if your monthly tariff's increased and you weren't warned at sign-up, the same protection doesn't apply to out-of-allowance price increases, unless you can successfully claim you've suffered "material detriment". But you may be able to haggle.
- If you DO regularly use out-of-bundle services... You may be able to leave penalty-free, though it depends when you've done this and by how much. Vodafone says it's reviewed customers' bills for February, March and April this year and is contacting those who may see bills go up by more than the Retail Prices Index (a measure of inflation – for the current period it's 1.3%) to say they CAN leave penalty-free.
Note, Vodafone says you can only leave penalty-free if you're told you can (though of course, you can always challenge this, particularly if you believe you've suffered "material detriment", as above). Vodafone's texting customers to inform them of the price rises, with a link to a page letting them know if they can leave free of charge as a result. If you get an SMS from Vodafone, make sure you click the link to check.
Vodafone won't say how many customers can leave penalty-free but if you're told you can, you need to write to it at the following address within 30 days of being notified: Vodafone Limited, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 2FN. Make sure you can find a better deal elsewhere first though (see top picks in Cheap Mobile Tips), and if you want to retain your number remember to ask for your PAC code too.
If you have a handset bundled as part of your contract, Vodafone has confirmed you'll get to keep it with no further charge if you choose to exercise your right to leave penalty-free.
Whenever a mobile firm hikes prices, it's a prime opportunity to haggle a better deal, as long as you're willing to stay. If you're able to leave penalty-free, that puts you in a much better bargaining position – but even if you can't, it's worth a shot, particularly if you're nearing the end of your contract. See full help in our Mobile Haggling guide, but to get you started:
- Benchmark the best deals. Make sure you know what top deals are around for your usage as a basis for negotiation. See our top picks in the Cheap Mobiles guide, or use our top pick comparison site MobilePhoneChecker*.
- Check your current usage. Knowing how much you use your phone and what you use it for is crucial to getting the right deal.
- Ask for the 'disconnections' department. When speaking to your provider, ask for 'disconnections'. Their job is actually to retain customers, and they have more power and discretion to do it.
- Don't say 'yes' to the first offer they give. Chances are, it's not the best deal they can do. Remember, be firm.
- Problems mean discounts. If you've had issues with the network in the past – for example, errors with billing or poor coverage – then politely tell them when you haggle, and obviously tell them you're calling because of the latest price hike. They should want to try to make it up to you.
What does Vodafone say?
A spokesperson for Vodafone says: "The vast majority of our contract customers without an unlimited call and text plan already stay within their agreed bundles and won't see any difference from the changes we're making to the out-of-bundle charges. For those who do use more than their agreed monthly allowance, we already have a number of 'extras' available to them to help keep their costs down.
"Customers will receive at least 30 days' notice of the change and those impacted at or above the rate of RPI will be given the right to leave without charge, in line with Ofcom's guidance."