EE, the UK’s biggest mobile network has bumped up contract prices again. The operator that is formed of T-Mobile and Orange will be raising their monthly fees by 3.3% in the coming months. Orange customers will see their bills increase from the 10th April while T-Mobile customers get an extra month before their bills go up on 9th May.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing customers can do about it. You may have thought that you signed up for a mobile contract that had a fixed price each month but the networks’ sneaky small print gives them an excuse to do almost anything. Even if you signed your agreement in good faith, EE can do pretty much whatever they want and you’re still stuck until the end of your contract. The bad news is that Ofcom is letting the networks get away with it. Some Orange customers would say they are really taking the pith(!)
So why do contract prices need to go up? Well, networks are making big investments in new technologies at the moment. EE recently launched its new 4G network at great expense. It also just spent almost £600 million in the recently 4G spectrum auction.
Rather than plan in advance and accept these outgoings as normal costs of business the mobile operators expect their customers to absorb them. So it’s down to EE users to pay for their increasing costs. And this isn’t a one-off. In fact, it was only just over a year ago that Orange increased their tariffs mid-term by 4.34%. They’d already increased prices in June 2011. And T-Mobile raised prices by 3.7% just last May.
The price increase is thought to affect over 5 million contract customers. And it’s going to make over £50 million for EE.
In fact, the situation is even worse than that. The fact that networks have no shame about grabbing every last penny from you is made abundantly clear by Orange’s new “Fix the price of your monthly plan ” add-on. You probably won’t believe the cheek of this but it’s an extra you have to pay for to ensure you aren’t affected by price rises after signing your contract.
That’s right, if you agree to fork out £35/month on your mobile phone you have to pay extra to actually ensure that they don’t bait and switch it up to £40/month halfway through. It’s come to the point where you have to pay extra to actually pay the amount you agreed upon and not more. And the bolt-on isn’t cheap either – it costs between 50p and £2.
Thankfully, the price rise “only” affects EE’s Orange and T-Mobile brands, not the 4G-only EE brand itself. Still, that is a small comfort for those hit by the increases.
So what can you do about it? If you’re currently locked into a contract, not much at all. If you are on Orange you do still have time to buy into the con of the ” Fix the price of your monthly plan”. Just call 150 to sort it out. But that’s still going to cost you more that you bargained on.
However, if you’re out of contract or near the end, it’s another reason to look at PAYG instead. With the abundance of cheap virtual networks offering great monthly deals, you’d be a fool not to. Most of the time you can actually save money over going on a contract even after you factor in the price of paying for your own handset. Vote with your wallet and don’t reward the mobile networks who think they can get away scot free with constantly increasing prices.
Are you on T-Mobile or Orange? What do you think of these new price increases? Are you planning to move to the freedom of pay-as-you-go when you get the chance? And if so, which network are you going to choose to switch to?