Virgin Media & O2 Users Face Large Bill Increases.
Customers of Virgin Mobile and O2 face hefty price hikes on their phone bills since April. The increase of 11.7% for airtime for many customers is in large part due to the rate of inflation, which has soared in recent months.
Price comparison site Uswitch.com said regulator Ofcom should offer customers the chance to change providers.
Virgin Mobile says customers were given a 30-day opportunity to leave penalty-free in January. All affected Virgin Mobile customers will face the full 11.7% rise – the 7.8% current rate of inflation as measured by the Retail Prices Index (RPI) plus 3.9%.
O2 said only customers who joined or upgraded after 25 March 2021 would pay the full increase. Bills for customers who joined earlier will go up just by the current RPI rate of 7.8%.
Customers Face Hefty Price Hikes on their Mobiles
In most cases, the increase relates only to the airtime part of bills – not the portion that covers the loan used to purchase the mobile phone itself.
Ernest Doku, the telecoms expert at Uswitch.com, said: “Providers should let consumers walk away penalty-free from these hikes.
“These mid-contract rises are written into customers’ contracts, but no one signing up for their deal 12 months ago could have guessed what their increase would be. Mobile users cannot be expected to guess what future inflation rates will be when they take out their contracts.”
Virgin Mobile wrote to customers in January, warning that increases were coming but because this was a change to terms and conditions, allowed customers to give 30 days’ notice to exit their contracts without penalty.
An O2 spokesperson said customers still received “incredible value” in spite of the increases. “We recognise price changes are never welcome and always balance keeping our prices competitive with the need to continue investing in the services that our customers use and love.”
Source: BBC News