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How to avoid the phone and broadband price hikes

How to avoid the phone and broadband price hikes

Category: Broadband

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

It's the time of year when thoughts turn to curling up in front of the TV on those cold winter evenings, and there's nothing quite like being able to catch up on your favourite TV series or gorge on a few films as the nights draw in. But, with a lot of providers announcing price hikes in recent months, you may be wondering how you can keep your bills in check while still making the most of all that entertainment goodness - so we're here to help!

Price hikes and price wars

TalkTalk is the latest phone and broadband provider to announce an above-inflation price hike, hot on the heels of BT and Sky who have announced similar rises in the last few weeks. From 1 December, TalkTalk customers will see the cost of their landlines rise from £15.95 per month to £16.70 per month - an increase of 4.7% - while several packages will also be subject to price rises.

Customers on its "Plus" calls and broadband bundle will be charged £3 more per month (£18.50) while those who take its Anytime UK Calls Boost will see their charges increase from £5 to £7.50 per month. Call connection fees will also increase by 1p to 16p per chargeable call, which will take effect on 1 January 2015.

TalkTalk is still touted as being cheaper than some competitors, particularly for TV packages, but the price hikes won't sit well with many customers. Those who aren't happy with the increases can cancel their contract by contacting TalkTalk within 30 days of receiving the notification of the new prices.

There's clearly still a price war going on, however, with Sky and BT increasing their prices by up to 6% (also set to hit customer bills from 1 December) and Virgin is widely expected to follow suit. Some are also upping their game with new services and deals, such as mobile streaming services, extra TV packages and even free broadband, so it could be a great time to compare the options and see how much you could get for your money.

How to find the best deals

So, just how can you find the deals that are right for you? If you want a package that will help you avoid the price hikes and get as much as you can for your hard-earned cash, there's a lot you need to think about.

The first thing you'll want to do is get out of your existing deal, so you can avoid the price hikes before your bills are hit. Even if you're in the middle of your contract, the rules state that you've got 30 days from receiving the price notification to switch penalty-free, so you won't be lumbered with exit fees. If your prices aren't rising then you'll need to wait until the end of your existing contract, but if it's coming up to that time, get searching!

Here are just a few things you need to bear in mind before you get started.

  • Don't always be swayed by price. It may be tempting to go for the cheapest deal you can get your hands on, but these invariably come with caveats and limitations. Be wary of the likes of free broadband - it may sound good, but what's the speed like, and how much can you download a month? If you download or stream a lot of films, for example, you'll need a super-quick connection and a high enough data allowance to accommodate your entertainment-hungry nature, so always check the details.
  • Consider the long-term cost. Bear in mind that some of the cheapest prices available will only be on offer for the first few months of the contract, as a time-limited incentive to get you to switch. So, always check what the price will revert to after the deal comes to an end, and ensure you won't be paying too much for the remainder of your contract.
  • Make sure you'll actually use what you're paying for… It's all very well opting for a package that boasts hundreds of TV channels, ultra-fast broadband and unlimited data usage, but if you won't actually use all that it's money down the drain. It's important you'll actually benefit from the services offered, so if you only use the internet for the basics and don't have time to watch a lot of TV, consider opting for a lower package.
  • … but don't restrict yourself too heavily, either. Of course, you can come at it from another angle, and if you think you might need a bit of an upgrade, then don't always go for the basic package. Some come with meagre data allowances that could be used up in an instant, and if you've only got a few channels to choose from, you may regret it when you're trying to find a great film to watch on those all-important nights in.
  • Get the package to suit your lifestyle and location. Essentially, it all comes down to your lifestyle - but your location matters, too. Certain parts of the country can't get superfast fibreoptic broadband, for example, so you don't want to be paying for a package that boasts these super-quick speeds when you can't actually benefit from them!
  • Consider every aspect of the package. Most packages these days come with phone, TV and broadband all muddled in together - and some will even throw in sim cards for your mobile phone for good measure - but make sure to consider every aspect individually.
  • Compare the options. This is perhaps the most important tip of all, as it can make all the difference to the price you pay and the level of service you get. If you don't compare the options thoroughly, how can you truly be certain that you've got the best deal? You'll want to take a look at the available packages from all providers, making sure to consider the points mentioned above, and have a checklist in mind (such as the speed you want, the data allowance you'll need, the TV channels you're after and the type of phone package you'll use) to help make your final decision.

What next?

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Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.