For anyone out there feeling the pinch and hoping for a little financial relief, don’t look to BT! The telecoms company announced earlier this week on 26th August that from the 3rd December they will be increasing their call charges for residential customers by 5%. This will be the second increase BT has made this year, and the third in 14 months, having increased their call charges by 9% in April, and by 10% a year ago.
Commenting on the news, Jemma Fox, Marketing Director of The Virtual Number Company which provides non-geographic phone number and virtual London 0203 phone numbers said: “This news is rather surprising to say the least, coming hot on the heels of the previous BT price hike. People out there are really struggling to make ends meet at the moment, you would think that BT would want to help them, but they seem to be doing quite the reverse. It would be understandable if BT were making losses and were struggling, but they announced in July that their before tax profits for the three months of April, May and June were up by 20% to £533million. I know that a 5% rise is roughly in line with inflation, but as there has already been a 9% hike this year already, you would think that BT would cut their customers some slack”.
The price of a UK daytime call will increase from 7.6p per minute to 7.95p per minute, whilst evening calls will increase from 1p per minute to 1.05p per minute. Line Rental for customers paying by Direct Debit will increase from £13.90 to £14.60 per month, and call set up fees will increase from 12.5p per call to 13.1p per call. These are what customers are charged for calls that are outside of their plan. The most popular of these plans are the Unlimited Anytime Plan, which will increase from £4.70 to £4.90 per month. BT said that these prices will now be frozen until 2013, so effectively they are getting 2012’s rises in early. Surprisingly, they also scrapped the discount that they had in place for paperless bills, although existing customers will still be able to retain their discount.
However, there is some good news as calls to mobile phones will not increase. BT announced that daytime calls to T-Mobile, Vodaphone, Orange and O2 phones will remain at 11.3p in the daytime and 5.3p in the evening. But, there was no such guarantee that these prices will remain frozen until 2013, so look out for prices rises at some point in the future. Many consumer groups have expressed their disappointment at the price rises, following so soon after major energy price increases.