Research today reveals that over nine million consumers are unaware that their broadband bills are set to increase, according to research by Hyperoptic.
Every year BT, EE, Plusnet, Vodafone, O2, TalkTalk, Shell Energy, and others raise their ‘in contract’ prices, in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation, which recently hit 5.4 per cent. They then add up to 3.9 per cent.
These companies represent over half (56 per cent) of the UK broadband market.
Over 15 million consumers are set to be impacted by these price rises, which come into effect from as early as 31 March 2022. With CPI at a thirty-year high, consumers will soon be hit with the following price hikes:
· BT will increase bills by 9.3 per cent – an average yearly increase of: £45.33
· EE will increase bills by 9.3 per cent – an average yearly increase of: £38.39
· Plusnet will increase bills by 9.3 per cent – an average yearly increase of: £24.92
· TalkTalk will increase bills by 9.1 per cent – an average yearly increase of: £35.85
· Vodafone will increase bills by 9.3 per cent – an average yearly increase of: £31.28
Hyperoptic commissioned a nationally representative survey via Censuswide of over 2,000 consumers, who will be impacted by these in-contract price rises, to get insight into consumer sentiment.
60 per cent of affected customers did not know about the upcoming price rises, which equates to over nine million consumers, whilst nearly half (47 per cent) feel misled by their broadband provider.
Nearly half (48 per cent) said they would have not have signed their contract if they had been aware of the increase, and 63 per cent of affected customers feel these price rises are unfair.
In January 2022 Virgin Media also announced that it would be increasing its broadband prices, reportedly by an average of £4.70 a month. That equates to an annual increase of £56.40.
Unlike the above-mentioned broadband companies, Virgin Media has confirmed that all customers affected by the price increase can leave their contract without paying any early termination charge. To do this, customers will need to contact Virgin Media within 30 days of receiving notification of the price increase.
A Virgin Media spokesperson told City A.M.: “While we recognise a price change is never welcome, with rising costs and our customers using their services more than ever, we are reviewing our pricing to fuel further investment in our network and services, both now and in the future.
“We’re committed to providing brilliant services and excellent overall value, and consistently give our customers more for their money than anyone else.”
Sky has yet to confirm whether it will be raising its in-contract prices, but its website states “prices may change during your contract.” In 2021, its customers were impacted by price rises of up to £72 per year.
A Vodafone spokesperson told City A.M.: “We know no one wants to see prices increase, but these reflect the rising costs that we continue to face in running our network and providing our services. Like many other industries, we face rising costs of energy, staffing, logistics and transport, as well as regulatory costs. These price increases are essential for us to maintain investment in our network and services while the costs that we face continue to rise.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson representing BT, EE and Plusnet, stated: “Two years ago, we decided to change the way we implemented price changes. Instead of unexpected, and inconsistent price changes throughout the year, we introduced a single contracted price rise, that would happen annually from 31 March. As usage across our networks continues to increase and with our customers relying on us for connectivity more than ever before, it’s crucial we continue to invest in our networks, services and the latest technology.”
“As such, and in line with our terms, our prices for existing customers will be increasing from 31st March, with a similar rise also being introduced for new customers. We remain committed to supporting customers on low-incomes or facing financial hardship, and BT is freezing prices for financially vulnerable customers.”
Crucially, the spokesperson also disputed the figures themselves: they suggested Hyperoptic has used data from a third-party comparison sites to calculate the averages.
Instead, the spokesperson provided the following figures:
- 9.3%, average £3.50 which is based on the average a BT or EE customer would pay or £42.00 per year
- On average, Plusnet customers will see a monthly increase of £2.40, or £28.80 per year