Millions of EE and O2 mobile customers will be hit with price hikes of 2.5% and 2.6%, respectively. While certain Vodafone mobile users will also see prices rise.
The moves come in from 30 March for EE customers, on April bills for O2 customers, and from April for Vodafone users.
It means a “typical” increase of up to 80p a month – or £9.60 a year – for EE customers, while O2 gives the example of a 46p a month price rise – or £5.52 a year – for customers on its most popular tariff.
EE says its 2.5% increase is in line with January 2017’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) rate of inflation (as announced in February 2017). However, this was in fact 2.6% - so we’re awaiting clarification on whether we’ve been given incorrect information. It’s more likely EE meant December 2016’s 2.5% rate as announced in January 2017.
O2, however, uses January 2017’s higher 2.6% RPI figure (as announced in February 2017).
Vodafone's prices will rise in line with February’s RPI, although this figure isn't announced by the Office for National Statistics until March.
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Who exactly is affected?
EE wouldn’t tell us how many people will see prices rise, but the move affects its pay monthly, SIM-only, and mobile broadband customers who joined or upgraded since 26 March 2014. Pay-as-you-go customers are not affected.
O2’s rise affects around 8 million customers on pay monthly, SIM-only, O2 Refresh (Airtime Plan only – the Device Plan element is unaffected), mobile broadband and SMB Business contracts. Again, pay-as-you-go customers are not affected.
Vodafone wouldn’t tell us how many people will see prices rise, but it did confirm that the rise affects pay-monthly and SIM-only customers who joined or upgraded from 6 May 2016. Those who took out Vodafone contracts prior to 6 May 2016 are covered by the firm’s ‘Fixed Price Promise’ and won’t see any price rises until their contract ends. Pay-as-you-go customers are not affected.
Can I leave my contract penalty free as a result?
Sadly you can’t cancel your contract penalty free as a result of the EE, O2 and Vodafone price rises as the providers say their terms and conditions state that the monthly plans affected can increase annually by RPI.
Under telecommunication regulator Ofcom’s rules, customers who take out or upgrade their contract on or after 23 January 2014 can cancel their contract penalty free if a provider ups prices mid-contract – but only if they weren’t told about this possibility prior to agreeing their deal.
EE and O2 customers can, however, cancel their contracts penalty free as usual by giving 30 days’ notice at any time after their minimum term deal ends. Vodafone says even once your minimum term has ended you can't cancel penalty free.
Are other providers upping prices?
Three has yet to announce or make a decision on whether to up prices this year.
Why are prices rising?
EE says the increase reflects the rise in costs to provide services, such as 4G, as well as the decision to bring its call centres back to the UK and Ireland.
An EE spokesperson adds: “As the UK’s biggest and fastest mobile network we work hard to offer our customers great value. Like many service providers, our Pay Monthly plans increase by RPI annually. This year our customers will see a typical rise of less than 80p a month. We’re currently contacting our customers to remind them this will take effect from 30 March 2017.”
An O2 spokesperson says: “We’ll be adjusting our monthly tariff charges by 2.6% in line with the RPI change that applies to our contracts each year - some other companies offering communication services have increased their monthly rentals by up to 9%. This adjustment means an extra charge of 46 pence per month for customers on our most popular pay monthly tariff and we’ll contact customers next week to let them know the change will be reflected from their April bill. We’ll continue to invest in our network and the services that matter to our customers while still offering great value for money.”
A spokesperson for Vodafone says: "These changes will help us to maintain our multi-billion pound investment in our bigger and better network while providing the great products and services which our customers expect from us."