Millions of Britons could see a more than 17 percent hike in their monthly phone bills after service providers raised prices this spring.
Mobile phone service providers are expected to increase contract prices in April as the UK battles the ongoing cost of living crisis and soaring inflation.
Analysts predict the average family will see their phone bill increase by more than £17 per month or almost £210 annually. Charges will vary by provider.
As families prepare for the looming contract hike, a household money-saving firm has developed a free online calculator that will predict your estimated monthly bill.
To use the calculator, simply select your mobile phone provider, and the details of your contract, to find out how much your monthly bill could go up.
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Analysts at Nous.co, which developed the online tool, claim the average monthly phone bill in the UK is £25.62 a month.
A typical family household – defined as a mother, father and two children – with four phone contracts could see a more than £17 increase in their monthly bill due to the expected mid-contract hike, the calculator showed.
Providers can calculate their additional charges using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the Retail Prices Index (RPI).
Using the CPI, providers could charge customers a massive 14.4 percent more than allowed by Ofcom rules.
The rules allow companies to raise charges by the rate of inflation – which is now 10.5 percent – plus an additional 3.9 percent on top.
Firms could also calculate their price hikes using the RPI, which analysts claim would lead to hikes of up to 17.3 percent.
The predicted rate includes the 13.4 percent RPI, as well as the additional 3.9 percent permitted by Ofcom.
Nous.co alleges the RPI is a ‘now-discredited inflation measure’ and ‘usually much higher’ than the CPI.
Mobile phone service providers are expected to increase contract prices in April as the UK battles the ongoing cost of living crisis and soaring inflation. Analysts predict the average family will see their phone bill increase by more than £17 per month or almost £210 annually. Charges will vary by provider
Greg Marsh, founder and CEO of Nous.co, argued that amid the cost-of-living crisis, it is ‘important’ for families to know ‘exactly what increased costs they are facing.’
‘When inflation was running at around 3 percent, while this was a ruse, it wasn’t quite so dire for customers. But now we are looking at serious increases,’ Mr. Marsh explained.
Even if inflation falls over the next 12 months (which is far from certain) by the end of this year, mobile costs will be set based on a rate nearly three times that. And many people are now locked into contracts of up to 24 months.’
He added: ‘It’s important for households to know exactly what increased costs they are facing and also when they might be able to get out of their contracts and hopefully shop around for a better deal.’
His comments echoed those of MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis who last week encouraged households to ‘ditch and switch’ their contracts.
Mr. Lewis argued that roughly 7 million customers are out-of-contract and overpaying for their contracts. He urged those customers to search around for deals with other providers.
The financial expert, during his ITV Money Show last week, claimed that haggling customers had ‘high success rates at many other broadband providers too.’
‘Switching… don’t worry about it too much,’ he argued, claiming the new firm will handle the switching process.
He also encouraged customers still in their contract to try and haggle with their existing provider – alleging 75 percent of TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky customers have successfully haggled.
He instructed families to call their provider and say: ‘I’ve seen what you’re charging new customers.’
Mr. Lewis said to ask if the provider can offer a better deal and if the sales representative declines, request the customer disconnections department.
‘This is where they can do the big deals,’ he explained. ‘Always be polite and if they don’t give you that price, I would be pretty annoyed and I’d want to ditch and switch and go elsewhere.’
Inflation dipped to 10.5 percent in December, down from 10.7 percent the previous month
The money tips come as the CPI dipped to 10.5 percent in December, down from 10.7 percent the previous month.
It is the second consecutive fall in the index, with experts suggesting that the peak has passed after the 40-year high of 11.1 percent in October. It could ease the pressure on the Bank of England to keep increasing interest rates.
However, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt warned on Wednesday that there can be no letting up on efforts to tackle the curse of soaring prices.
Ministers also vowed to hold firm against a wave of public sector strikes, saying giving in to demands for double-digit pay hikes would risk undoing the progress that has been made.
Speaking after the CPI figures were announced, Mr Hunt said: ‘There is no room for any deviation from our central objective of the year, which is to halve inflation, so that we deal with, for example, the anger of public sector workers who are seeing their pay eroded, we deal with the pressure that pensioners are seeing when they are doing their weekly shop, the pressure on businesses sometimes worried about their viability.
‘This has to be our central mission and that’s why the Prime Minister has nailed his colors to the mast and said we are going to halve inflation over the next year.’