Tesco Mobile Phone Survey

The UK mobile division of Supermarket giant Tesco and charity Money Advice Plus have jointly called for a “ban on price hikes” by broadband ISPs and mobile operators, although what they appear to be focusing on is “misleading” mid-contract price rises rather than all price hikes.

The position is being supported by the results of a new Tesco-commissioned YouGov survey into unexpected price hikes, which interviewed (online) 2,058 UK adults between 26th and 28th of February 2021. The results found that 9% of respondents have been unable to pay essential bills since the COVID-19 pandemic began, while 38% admit even a small increase to household or utility bills would cause them to worry financially and 14% fear it could cause them to face potential disconnection because of arrears.

At the same time Tesco Mobile notes that a growing number of mobile and broadband operators have recently announced a raft of “unexpectedly high mid-contract price rises this year,” which have reached as high as 4.5% for Three UK, Vodafone, BT and EE customers. Such things have long since morphed into somewhat of an annual event, so for anybody paying attention they shouldn’t be totally “unexpected.”

Inflation is a measure of the rate of rising prices of goods and services in an economy (e.g. if something costs more to produce, then the end product to consumers may also cost more). Mobile operators have long linked annual price rises to changes in the level of inflation, although this same trend has recently also spread to some of the largest home broadband ISPs too (usually inflation plus an additional %).

Tesco Mobile is calling on other networks to “reverse prices hikes this year” and join them in promising to keep prices frozen throughout the duration of their customers’ contracts.

At the same time as this, providers are frequently adding all sorts of new services, running big first year discounts, adapting to new rules (e.g. automatic compensation) and developing new systems (e.g. improved switching). On top of that consumers are also gobbling significantly more data and COVID-19 has resulted in many operators offering special discounts, billing flexibility or additional content to customers. All of these things add costs.

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Did you know……

42% believe their phone has become more essential to them during the pandemic.

50% of those with a mobile phone contract weren’t even aware a network provider could put up their prices mid-contract and part of that may be due to unfamiliar jargon.

48% don’t understand the term RPI (Retail Price Index), while 69% are unaware of what CPI (Consumer Price Index) means – both are different types of inflation.