Millions of EE mobile customers are facing a steep hike next month in the cost of calls and messages made outside their pay monthly allowance.
The price increases, which come into effect on 28 September, will see the cost of standard UK calls jump 25% to 50p/min, among a raft of changes. Here we explain what's changing, what your rights are and how to beat the hike by changing the way you use your mobile or haggling.
See our 30+ Cheap Mobile Tips for more ways to cut the cost of your mobile deal.
The biggest increase is for international calls to certain zones, which are going up by a whopping 60p/min. Here's a summary of the main changes – see EE's website for full details.
EE out-of-allowance price changes
|UK services||Current price||Price from 28 Sept|
|Access charge – to 084/087/09/118 nos.||44p/min||50p/min|
|Picture messages (incl when roaming)||40p/message||50p/message|
|International services (from UK)||Current price||Price from 28 Sept|
|Calls to Zone 3 – Canada, US, Virgin Islands||£1/min||£1.60/min|
|Calls to Zone 4 – Australia, New Zealand||£1/min||£1.60/min|
|Calls to Zone 5 – rest of the world||£1/min||£1.60/min|
|Texts to all international numbers||25p/text||35p/text|
|Other charges||Current price||Price from 28 Sept|
|Late bill payment fee||£5||£7.50|
Pay-as-you-go charges are unaffected by the change.
How to beat the hike
Unfortunately, just because EE's hiked prices, it doesn't automatically mean you're able to leave your contract penalty-free if you're still within your minimum term.
While Ofcom rules let you escape penalty-free if your monthly tariff's increased and you weren't warned at sign-up, sadly the same protection doesn't apply to out-of-allowance price increases, unless you can successfully claim you've suffered "material detriment" as a result.
However, it's possible EE may choose to allow those who regularly use the affected services to leave anyway, as Vodafone did with its July hikes. We've asked EE this and will update this story when we know more.
Here are a few tips on how to cut costs if you do use any of the impacted services:
Increase your UK call allowance. Most (if not all) of EE's plans include unlimited minutes, so this shouldn't affect many people. If you are going over your allowance regularly, we'd recommend getting a plan that includes more minutes, or using internet-based services like Viber or Facetime (you'll both need to be online for this). See Free Web Calls for more options.
Call international numbers via the internet. If you're making calls to overseas numbers with your mobile, you really shouldn't be. Using a VoIP provider that routes your call via the web can be free (if the recipient's online) or cost a fraction of the price. All you need is a smartphone with a Wi-Fi/data connection; for full info see Cheap UK and International Calls.
Look for alternatives to 'service numbers'. Calling 084/087/09/118 numbers incurs steep charges in most cases. Thanks to regulation they're used less and less these days, but if you do come across one try to find an alternative on SayNoTo0870.com. See the Non-geographic numbers guide for more.
Send pictures for free online. It's very expensive to send pictures via text (technically MMS). Wait until you've got an internet connection (preferably Wi-Fi to avoid sucking up your data) and sending pictures via the one of the plethora of free mediums – WhatsApp, iMessage and good old-fashioned email to name a few.
Go for haggling gold. Even if you can't leave penalty-free and are still in contract, it still might be worth calling up and trying to haggle down your bill using this hike as ammunition. Do this in combination with our other Mobile Haggling tips for a greater chances of success.
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What EE says
An EE spokesperson says: "We're contacting our pay monthly mobile customers to inform them of some changes we are making to the cost of calls and MMS outside of their allowances from 28th September.
"Only a small proportion of our customers will be affected by these changes, as the vast majority of EE customers have unlimited UK calls and call charges to the EU remain the same. We also offer great value bundles for customers who frequently send MMS messages or make international calls."