If you're an EE customer, of even if you're not, you may have heard about the recent round of price increases for mobile customers, which will see contract prices rise by 2.7%.
The move will see the average EE customer pay 60p more per month. Or an extra £7.20 per year.
It's never great news when there's less money in your pocket. But unfortunately, price rises are an unfortunate fact of life when it comes to mobile contracts.
Most big mobile phone networks hike their prices at least once annually. O2 and Three, for instance, area also set to raise their prices in April 2019
So, what can you do when your bill rises unexpectedly? And what rights do you have when it does?
Read on and we’ll explain how contract rises work and the way you can learn to navigate them, ensuring you’re never out of pocket.
How regularly do networks increase their prices?
Price rises tend to only happen once a year, with the major UK phone networks pegging their increases to the Retail Prices Index (RPI).
This way of measuring inflation generally means hikes of anywhere between 2% and 4%, depending on the economic climate.
While Ofcom legislated to protect against mid–contract price rises in 2014, it allowed for inflation–linked rises.
On a typical £30 per month phone-and-SIM contract, a 2% rise would work out at about 60p per month.
At the upper end of the scale, a 4% increase would see your monthly bill rise by £1.20 per month.
Price rises tend to be announced in February, before taking effect in March and April.
Regulations to protect consumers compel networks to contact customers well in advance to inform them of any such changes.
Can I simply leave my network if the price goes up?
Your network is permitted to rise the price of its monthly deals by the rate of inflation.
That means that you can’t simply cancel your contract without paying a financial penalty, usually the entire cost of the remaining deal.
That could end up being very expensive. For example, if you were
However, if your contract is up, you’re free to switch providers or ask for a better offer from your current network.
Do I have rights if I think I’m being ripped off?
Yes. Under Ofcom rules, you can quit without paying a penny if you can prove, “material detriment.”
Ofcom says it is, “....likely to treat in-term increases to the core subscription price agreed at the point of sale as meeting this material detriment requirement and giving rise to the right of withdrawal".
The bad news is that inflation linked rises are hard to prove as causing material detriment.
For example, EE says its recently announced rise of 2.7% equates on average to 60p a month, an amount that is hard to prove as a detrimental loss.
Do price rises affect SIM only deals as well as phone-and-tariff contracts?
Yes. Any inflationary hike covers all kinds of monthly mobile contracts, whether they’re for a handset and line rental or a simple calls, data and texts only package.
The good news is that 30 day SIM only contracts can be left at short notice, meaning you can switch to a cheaper deal if you’re unhappy about your bill going up.
What should I do if I'm hit by a price rise?
That largely depends on whether you're under contract with your mobile phone provider.
In the event that you are under contract at the point when you're hit by a price rise in line with inflation, your only option really is to ride out the contract.
But in the meantime, be sure to make a note of its end date and resolve to switch to a cheaper deal as soon as the contract term is over. If you're not sure when your contract ends, you can usually find it by opening up the network app on your phone. Or by ringing the network.
In the event that you're out of contract and you're not minded to pay the higher prices, though, you can leave your network giving 30 days' notice.
Before you choose another network or deal, make sure you take a look at our full selection of SIM only deals.
And if you feel you need a bit of help switching network and transferring your number, we've got you covered with our complete guide to changing network.
Should I switch to pay as you go?
It depends. If you’re a light smartphone user, then pay as you go may be a decent option for escaping the vagaries of unexpected price rises.
But one-month SIM only deals, while susceptible to price rises, are a better bet.
30-day deals mean easily switching if you’re unhappy, with the added bonus of knowing your exact allowance each month.
Need some help choosing a network? Cast your eyes on our complete guide to UK network coverage.