back to article UK mobile customers face inflation-busting price hike

Mobile customers face a mid-contract price rise, with all four operators confirming they will hike fees by 4 per cent, 1 per cent above inflation. That is in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI) figure for January 2018. Operators will begin introducing the increase from March. Rob Hilborn, head of strategy at price …

  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    It makes no sense.

    Every year they increase my contract in line with inflation. Every 2 years I upgrade my phone, taking the contract back to original price.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: It makes no sense.

      Yup, the reminder has prompted me to look at the upgrade options. Between my phone and the Mrs' phone I've just saved £25 a month and got significantly more data to boot.

      Had they left the price alone, apathy would probably have maintained its hold until next time one of us needed a new phone (could easily be years)

    2. Oh Homer

      Love Three's response...

      Customers complain, journo asks for comment, spin doctor responds with a freakin' advert.

      In Blightly, ripping people off is not just a way of life, it's an art form.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Love Three's response...

        I had a wonderful experience with O2 doing something similar to me when trying to get me to stay with them. I had complained that they were too expensive (on PAYG) and I was shocked when they tried to justify this with what was basically an advert. I said I'm paying 25p a minute for calls and 10p for SMS which is outrageous. He told me that the I could buy a package with huge numbers of minutes, texts etc. with my top up plus O2 priority, plus without buying anything my calls dropped to 5p per minute after 4 minutes use each day. I came back with the comment that I didn't use more than 4 minutes a day or sometimes a week and to get to the 5p rate it cost a quid. As a result, buying something that had silly amounts of minutes that expired after 30 days wasn't worth it. Then I pointed out that compared to the 123 rate on Three they were so uncompetitive that I wanted to switch to Three.

        It was at this point I was offered a new phone to which I said no thanks. Then a contract offer with silly minutes, texts and data which I explained (patiently) that I wouldn't use. I just needed my PAC code please. I will be interested to see if they increase the 123 rate as I'm still on it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Love Three's response...

        If its higher than inflation, then its not inflation linked, and therefore a breach of contract???

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why do you Brits put up with such abuse? Just switch to a better provider or go on pre-pay and buy your own phone every 3-4 years instead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Abuse

      Dunno what the pricing is in the UK now, but here in the US I switched to prepay a few years ago and save tons over what I was paying before. In fact I just happened to notice that my $45/month ($40/month with autopay discount) prepay plan from AT&T that used to have 2 GB of data now had 6 GB of data, and just found out they added a $35 ($30 w/autopay) plan with 1 GB of data which is plenty for me since I almost always use wifi. Switched last night so now I'm another $10/month ahead.

      If I was willing to go with an MVNO I'm sure I could pay even less but then I'd have to figure out how many minutes/texts I really need and the thought of doing that makes my head hurt.

      1. Rosie Davies

        Re: Abuse

        Last time I bothered to check I was paying £10/month (somewhere around $14/month). That gives me 1GB of data (I mostly use WiFi so that's plenty), unlimited texts and 600 minutes talk time a month (I'm an unsociable moo so rarely get anywhere near that).

        It looks as though those figures compare at least reasonably with the ones you quoted.


        1. getHandle

          Re: Abuse

          GiffGaff do a great deal for £10/month - 3GB data, loads of minutes and texts - with no contract!

          1. Mike Dolan

            Re: Abuse

            Or Plusnet.

            For £10 I get per month: 4GB data, 1500 minutes, unlimited texts, roaming, and crucially, tethering. 30 day contract so I can shift quickly if needed.

            I suspect this thread is now going to turn into a "hey, I can beat that!". So long as everyone is happy with their deal and it represents value for money (to them), then all is good....

            Never quite understood people who pay megabucks per month if they don't have a handset commitment to pay off.

          2. Locky

            Re: Abuse

            The one thing I miss with giffgaff is WiFi calling. Not to save the minutes, but the outlaws live in a phone wilderness.

            Are their any (reasonable) simm only with wifi calling? I can't seem to find one

            1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

              Re: Abuse

              > Are their any (reasonable) simm only with wifi calling? I can't seem to find one

              EE do a 20GB/month (unlimited texts and minutes) for £22/mo with wifi calling.

              Next tier down is £17/mo but you only get 4GB data.

              The catch? It means using EE. So you better hope there's wi-fi available as chances of a consistent signal are slim outside of cities/towns. They had 3 masts down near me a few weeks ago

            2. ARGO

              Re: Abuse

              Both EE and Three have Wifi calling - either by downloading an app or natively in the handset. Latter option requires the operator custom software on any Android that isn't <12 month old Samsung, Huawei or Honor. Apples from the last few years all work fine though.

              If O2 or Voda offer it they are keeping it quiet.

              1. paulf

                Re: Abuse

                @ARGO, "If O2 or Voda offer [WiFi calling] they are keeping it quiet."

                Yeah Vodafone are doing all they can to keep their Wifi calling service quiet.. It's native on the Jesus-Mobe, plus various Droids.

        2. Andy france Silver badge

          Re: Abuse

          "£10 per month"

          £7 per month from PlusNet mobile will give you 2GB and 3000 minutes of phone per month.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Abuse

            SIM free phone and - oh God, maybe a tenner a year on Three PAYG.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Abuse

        In the UK from Three I pay £20 ($28) per month and get unlimited data, free roaming in 71 countries including the US, free tethering (4g -> wifi hotspot), unlimited sms and a few hundred minutes talk-time (not sure how much I never use all of it). This is on a rolling 1 month contract.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Abuse

          re. Three free roaming in the US, yeah, 3 p/ m to your mates back home is great. Now, if you try to call the bloke standing next to you, your dear American cousin, on his dear American cell phone... You'd better check those rates first! Last I checked, it was something like GBP 1.5 per minute... And no, you CAN'T use one of them cheap international numbers Three advertise, nosir, not when you're roaming. Trying to outsmart the smarties, eh?! ;)

          1. Nifty Silver badge

            Re: Abuse


          2. Nifty Silver badge

            Re: Abuse

            Correct about Three. So I use Skype when roaming to call 'the guy standing next to me' or my holiday car hire company.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Why not use hangouts instead?

            Using Google hangouts on 3 in the USA to make a phonecall to the guy next to you is free....

            Thats all you need to do to get free calls in the USA on your UK 3 mobile.....(other countries - well, thats another thing - but ... probs!).

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Abuse

      Why do you Brits put up with such abuse?

      Presumably for the same reason 71% of SSE's customers are on a Standard Variable Tariff (the most expensive way of buying electricity and gas) - inertia coupled with the fact that it isn't in the interests of the suppliers to make the transition easy (it's supposed to be, but there are lots of ways it can fail).

      I don't know why (more) Local Authorities don't set up bulk-buying schemes for utilities so that people can be assured of getting a reasonable deal without having to put in the effort of constantly shopping around - the amount of human effort wasted in the name of failing competition is tragic.

    3. Mike Shepherd

      Re: Abuse

      Most people (in the UK and the US) budget so badly that they could never pay up-front for the lastest tech-toy they "must" have.

      So, as long as payment is "tomorrow" and not "today", they'll go for it. Few have even the schoolboy maths to work out compound interest, so one "deal" looks much the same as another. If there's any decision, it's based on trinkets like "free fake leather carrying case".

      Don't worry. It keeps prices down for the rest of us.

    4. ad47uk

      Re: Abuse

      Yep, I paid outright for a new phone about 3 months ago and I use plusnet as the provider, for £7.50 a month I get 1,000 minutes of talk time, unlimited text and because i am with plusnet for broadband I get 2GB of data, normally 1GB. but £7.50 for goodness shake.

      Also no contract, so I can leave at any time.

      My old Nexus 4 lasted for almost 5 years, in fact it still works but the battery is not great and the USB connector is a bit iffy.

      So if my new phone lasts as long then i am still quids in, I will never have a contract again for a mobile phone.

  3. ukgnome

    yeah it sucks - but compared to the USA providers it's not that bad

  4. macjules Silver badge

    Pity the poor Vodafone users

    As usual, they can't even tell mistruths properly. A very simple check on ONS against the CPI (it stopped being called RPI some time ago, by the way Vodafone) here shows that for March 2017 the CPI annual rate was actually 2.3%. Unfortunately Vodafone were suffering from Corporate Dyslexia Syndrome that month and. increased their prices by 3.2% instead!

    They even have the nerve to boast about it on their website

    1. monty75

      Re: Pity the poor Vodafone users

      CPI and RPI are different things

  5. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    so 10% above rpi would be "in line with inflation"?

    the price of potatoes goes up, so mobile phone calls are suddenly more expensive to provide?

    1. Mike Shepherd


      "the price of potatoes goes up, so mobile phone calls are suddenly more expensive to provide?"

      Yes, mobile phone providers eat potatoes, too.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Potatoes

        The call centres are all based in Ireland. All that really matters is the price of Guinness and potatoes.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Potatoes

          And the price of the chips...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Potatoes

            But what has that got to do with the price of fish?

  6. Kyorin

    You just have to shop around, or threaten to leave your current supplier when your contract is up. I just renewed my contract with THREE for another 12 months, giving me 8GB data, with unlimited calls and texts for £10 per month. That includes their feel-at-home (Europe) package meaning I can use my allowances abroad without paying extra. This doesn't include their other package that includes non-EU countries however, but that's fine for my usage.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: use my allowances abroad without paying extra

      That's the law within the EU now.

  7. Richard 81

    Funny how whenever we have to pay someone else more inline with inflation, RPI is used, but when someone has to pay us it's always CPI.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Funny how whenever we have to pay someone else more inline with inflation, RPI is used, but when someone has to pay us it's always CPI.

      Well in this case you can thank Ofcom, and their total lack of customer focus. There's other UK regulators who believe it their duty, nay very reason for existence to kick the shit out of the companies they regulate. Ofcom, on the other hand, regard their duty as being to work for the companies they regulate.

      There is a technical terms for this, of "regulatory capture".

  8. GlenP Silver badge

    The increase prompted me to check my package with EE, so instead of a 4.1% increase I've scored a 33% decrease with better limits.

  9. Lee D Silver badge

    One of the many reasons I don't do contracts on phones.

    Month-to-month contract, bye-bye if you raise the price on me too much. Plenty of other providers out there.

    And never buy a phone on contract/credit. Pointless exercise. "Hey, I get a new phone every year"... cool. And to do that, and profit, you've got to be paying more than it costs to buy a new phone every year.

    They can no longer hold your number ransom and most of the time that's the most valuable component of the whole deal to people.

    If you want loyalty, stop raising prices or give me a better deal than being a new customer at a rival. Because though I'm sure the RETAIL PRICE of things has gone up, and maybe inflation has risen as little, I don't believe that your costs as a telecommunications operator with forward-planning and investment has changed at all, in any way.

    (Interesting tidbit: Everyone from the manager of the Bank of England to all kinds of economics say the RPI is bunk and shouldn't be used).

  10. JimmyPage

    Oh, the *other* Page standing order ...

    (Here's the first)

    is no contracts. For some reason both Mrs Page and I have managed to not break, lose or outgrow our phones for over 2 years. So £10/month Tesco and £25/month GiffGaff (two SIMs one data, one vox) suit us fine. Being old farts we've never exceeded the minutes and texts, and with free WiFi out and about (in cities) data either.

    I'm guessing we're sort of headed where most folk are. And we are looking in our rear view mirror and seeing the Telcos ....

  11. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    After Brexit cliff edge....

    Watch your EU-enforced 'don't gouge while abroad within EU' tariffs disappear and telcos hike the price of calls/data once outside the UK....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: After Brexit cliff edge....

      Watch your EU-enforced 'don't gouge while abroad within EU' tariffs disappear and telcos hike the price of calls/data once outside the UK....

      But I don't mind. There is inevitably a list of things we'll lose leaving the circled, protectionist wagons of the EU. But the focus on what is lost is such an EU mindset, seeing the whole world as threat rather than opportunity. And of course, you can revel in glories like the French unemployment rate that has just dropped below 9% which is more than double the UK's.

  12. DarkLordofSurrey

    #MakeItRight, more like #MakeThemSqueal

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using EE here, I ring up every 11 months and get a new tariff- current "loyalty" deal is £8 per month for their 4GB essentials plan - so thats unlimited text and calls, WiFi calling works seamlessly, tethering is permitted for those quick remote access laptop jobs. For less that £100 a year it's hard to knock it, if I went PAYG it would cost more and I'd lose WiFi calling.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suspect there isn't a very strong correlation between how much it costs them to provide the service and how much they charge customers. It's purely a case of "How much can we charge before they leave?" and try and set it slightly below that.

  15. Jove Bronze badge

    Annual Increases

    Four percent is small change, the biggest concern is the staggering increases in Council Tax.

    Better to cut the thrills than some of the increases that are proposed.

    1. Roj Blake

      Re: Annual Increases

      You mean the council tax that before this year has increased at a rate below inflation for the best part of decade, resulting in councils being chronically underfunded? That council tax?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Annual Increases

        "You mean the council tax that before this year has increased at a rate below inflation for the best part of decade, resulting in councils being chronically underfunded? That council tax?"

        Or the Council Tax which is now having to be used because central government is pulling any and all funding they provide local councils, instead allowing them to keep more of the tax revenues they raise themselves? Including allowing councils to keep 100% of their business rates take? What? Oh, sorry it's now 90%. Wait, now it's down to 75%. Oh, and local councils only get to keep around 45% of the council tax take anyway, the rest goes back up the line to central government.

        Now, Council Tax is a great way for central government to increase their own revenues but shovel the blame on to local councils. Inspired decision really.

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