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Price Rise for Utility Warehouse UK Broadband and Phone Customers

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018 (8:53 am) - Score 4,749

Customers of UK ISP and energy provider Utility Warehouse are bracing themselves for a price hike in the cost of their broadband and phone package, which is set to be introduced from the 1st October 2018. Awkwardly that’s the same day that their Caller Display feature will become “free” (previously £2 per month).

The key change is in the underlying cost of their home phone (line rental) service, which will increase by 8.33% from £16.50 to £18 inc. VAT per month. The same increase will naturally also impact their fixed line broadband bundles, which are set out in their Tariffs Guide. On top of that their call set-up fees will increase to 19.2p per call.

In fairness UW are by no means the only ISP to increase their prices this year and all of the big players have already unveiled similar increases, although in this case UW has timed their increases to occur on exactly the same day as Ofcom’s new consumer regulations are due to be introduced (here). Perhaps they’re sending a subtle message.

One of the key changes above is a new requirement for providers to make Caller Display free to use, which would be fine if not for the fact that their wholesale suppliers are still charging them to use that same feature (Openreach even hiked the price). The inevitable outcome of this is that ISPs will have to recoup any lost revenue from elsewhere and hence price rises or feature reductions. Good job Ofcom, well thought out.

Admittedly there are other reasons why providers may need to increase their prices too. One example for this is because we’re all consuming much more data than before and ISPs have to compensate for the flexibility of their “unlimited” allowances somewhere. Likewise the loss of revenue from calling (it’s a service in decline) has a role to play too.

At the same time providers are also under pressure to adopt various other new rules, such as the forthcoming system for automatic compensation (here). On the plus side Ofcom’s rule against mid-contract price hikes means that customers should be able to exit their contract penalty free (you need to do this within 30 days of the notification) or you could use this as an opportunity to haggle for a lower price (Retentions – Tips for Cutting Your Broadband Bill Without Switching ISP).

Leave a Comment
12 Responses
  1. Christine conder says:

    Caller display has always been free with Vonage, useful for those on wireless, 4G or real fibre connections. No landline rental either as no OR infrastructure needed.

  2. NE555 says:

    The wholesale price for caller display is going up by 99p *per year* – from 0.45 to 1.44 ex VAT per annum. So that accounts for 14p (inc VAT) per month of the bill increase.

    This CP was charging £20+VAT per year for something which cost them 45p+VAT per year. No wonder Ofcom had to do something about it.

    OTOH, Openreach just happens to add £1 per year at the same time Ofcom forces CPs to provide the service to all customers, which means they will be about £20m/year better off – kerching.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      On the Openreach price list you should read Note 10 as they charge monthly for that specific one.

    2. NE555 says:

      The charge of £1.44 is in a column labelled “Annual rental £ Exc VAT”

      Note 10 applies, which says: “The Communications Provider will be charged on a monthly basis. Quarterly rental charges will be pro-rated.” Which I took to mean that the annual charge is divided into 12 installments of 12p.

      Note 10 also applies to some other services (e.g. Reminder Call, Ringback, Three Way Calling) where the charge is quarterly. The wholesale charge of all of those is £0.36 per quarter – which also works out at £1.44 per annum.

  3. Paul W says:

    Just a quick question with regards to caller ID. I currently don’t have it, does this mean I will automatically have caller ID switched on from the 1st October? Or will I still need to contact my supplier to have this switched on?

    1. occasionally factual says:

      @Paul W
      The ruling is that customers cannot be charged for this service. Not that every customer must be enabled to use the service.
      So if you don’t have it, you will most likely have to order it from your telephone provider on and after the 1st October 2018.

    2. Paul W says:

      OK thank.

    3. Bob says:

      @occasionally factual and @Paul W, the rule says they have to provide it by default and for free. That would imply they have to give it you without asking. Or at least that’s how Zen seems to have interpreted the rules.

  4. Claudettemcgibbon says:

    I’m with utility warehouse is there a similar company doing the same packages …gas electric mobile broadband home phone .
    To compare with or do I just have to accept the increase

    1. Richard says:

      I’m with utility warehouse too, they are by far the best deal out there! Which magazine says they’re awesome and the cashback card reduces my bill considerably just by doing my normal shopping, I’m not going anywhere…

    2. Sophie says:

      Careful if you’ve had the “free” lightbulbs with your package, as if you leave less than 2 years since you joined you will be charged approx £200-£300 for them (depending on how many you had installed). Although there’s no leavers charge for your utilities, & the lightbulbs are a free installation,Its a play on words & a handy little trick to keep you with them.

  5. Bob says:

    Not only are Openreach still charging for caller display they have also introduced a 200% price increase. Talk about taking the mick.

    Ofcom: You must give all customers caller display for free by default
    Telcos: OK sure we can do that
    Openreach: Oh by the way we’re going to charge you all loads more money, it is just a coincidence honest 😉

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