The UK’s biggest broadband, mobile phone and pay-TV companies have agreed a number of new pricing measures to help their customers through the cost of living crisis.
After a summit with the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Monday 27th June, the providers outlined a plan to make it a lot easier for customers to switch to a lower-cost tariff.
The plan comes after a record-breaking season of price hikes in telecoms services, driven by the significant increase in both the CPI and RPI rates of inflation at the beginning of 2022.
Some customers saw unprecedented broadband and mobile bill hikes of up to 12%, which tied in with soaring energy prices and a cost of living squeeze, has left many people with no choice but to search for a cheaper tariff.
Usually, telecoms brands charge their customers an ‘early termination’ fee for cancelling a fixed term contract mid-way through. But in light of soaring prices, the decision has been made to waive this cost, provided the customer is doing so to reduce the amount they are paying per month.
Among other commitments to promote the availability of lower-cost options, the latest plan would mainly be delivered in three ways:
Providers will allow customers to switch to a cheaper tariff without paying an exit fee for their existing contract.
Providers should offer ‘manageable payment plans’ to customers who are struggling to pay their bill every month.
Providers must make available and further promote affordable social tariffs for customers receiving Universal Credit.
These changes to providers’ policy, along with their additional commitments to further investigate how they can support struggling and vulnerable customers, will be applied with immediate effect.
Justina Miltienyte, Head of Policy at Uswitch.com, comments: “Communication services are essential to daily life, so this coordinated response from providers and the Government shows the telecoms industry is taking proactive action to safeguard customers who may find themselves struggling.
“Allowing mobile and broadband customers who are unable to afford their bills to move onto a cheaper tariff - without paying an exit fee - is a supportive and sensible measure.
“In addition, offering manageable payment plans will be helpful for some but it’s also important for providers to let consumers know they can easily reach out for help.
“Increasing awareness of social tariffs is long overdue, as two thirds of those eligible for the deals were unaware it was an option for them. The news that more providers could be set to introduce these tariffs to the financially vulnerable is welcome.
“While not everyone will be eligible for a social broadband or mobile tariff, the good news is that deals for new customers remain competitively priced - so if you’re out of contract it’s a good time to shop around”.