Each of the UK’s four main mobile networks is to raise prices for contract customers this April, industry insiders have revealed.
Acording to reports in trade website telecompaper.com, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone will all bump up prices for UK customers by as much as £20 a year.
EE has confirmed it was contacting customers who signed up for an EE deal since 26 March 2014 to tell them their contract prices will increase from 30 March.
It means the average customer on a £40 a month deal will see an extra £1.64 going out of their account each month, equivalent to £19.68 a year.
A spokesperson for EE tried to play down the increase, saying: “Like many service providers, our pay monthly plans increase by RPI annually, and this year customers on our most popular plan will typically see an increase of 85p a month.”
Three confirmed it would also raise its prices but has not confirmed by how much.
O2 said its prices would rise by 4%, with letters and emails going out to customers to inform them of the rise from 19 February. O2 contract customers will see these higher bills from April 2018 onwards.
Vodafone also confirmed the rate hike without giving a specific figure, saying: “All new pay-monthly contracts taken out on or after 5 May 2016 have an annual price adjustment in line with the RPI. For consumer contracts, we use the RPI figure published by the Office for National Statistics in March and apply the change in April each year from 2017.”
Can I cancel my contract for free?
While mid-contract price rises normally give customer the option to cancel early and switch away without paying any financial penalty, it’s understood that won’t be the case here.
That’s because each of the four networks state in their contracts that it is possible that prices will rise in line with inflation each year.
It’s an extra kick in the teeth to people paying for their fancy new phone with a 24-month contract as they’ll see two price rises during the course of their contract.
Crucially these price hikes will only affect ‘postpaid’ customers – that is, people who are on contract with any of the four networks. The increases won’t hurt ‘prepaid’ SIM Only customers, SIMOnlyDeals.co.uk understands.
How to beat the price rises
If your network failed to tell you at the point of purchase that prices could go up every year then you should be able to cancel and leave free of charge.
If at any point you realise that you are out of contract, you should be able to cancel without paying anything extra.
The main thing to note is that it might be time to consider moving to a SIM Only deal. You are not locked in to a minimum term contract and you don’t have to lay out a huge premium to pay for a new smartphone. SIM Only deals are also not subject to the same yearly RPI increases affecting contract customers.
The Retail Prices Index (RPI) is a tool the government uses to track the rate of inflation in the UK. This measure increased by 4% in January 2018.
Inflation is on the rise in the US and here at home in the UK, leading speculation of an interest rate rise.
While such a rise from the Bank of England would help savers, it will hurt borrowers who will have to pay more for loans, contracts and mortgages.