3.3% mid-contract price hike for Orange and T-Mobile customers

Mobile phoneCustomers with a T-Mobile or Orange contract will soon face higher bills as EE, which owns the two operators, has announced a price rise of 3.3%.

The company has blamed rising business costs for the hike, which will come into force on 10th April for Orange customers and 9th May for those on T-Mobile.
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It's not expected to be received well by customers, especially as the telecoms regulator is currently investigating mid-contract price rises.

Price rise
EE is pushing up prices in line with the Retail Prices Index measurement of inflation by 3.3%, which it says will add on around 70p to the average bill.

This follows on from several other mobile operators, including O2 and Vodafone, which both announced mid-contract price hikes last year.

Customers will be written to in the next few days with details of the price rise. A calculator will be available on the EE website to show exactly how prices will rise, and how much could be saved on the new tariff.

Fixed-rate tariff
To combat the price hikes EE is offering a new tariff which it says will give customers more predictability in their monthly prices.

It's called the 'Fix Your Monthly Plan' tariff, which it says is the first of its kind for the telecoms industry.

This is because it will charge one fixed-rate monthly fee for 12 months, so customers on this tariff will be immune from any further price hikes in the next year.

Those customers who have less than 12 months left on an existing contract with EE will be able to switch to the new fixed deal and then upgrade when their original contract was due to end.

But the new contract will still cost at least an extra 50p per month. In some cases it could add an extra £2 for customers on tariffs costing £35 or more.

'Fix Your Monthly Plan' prices

Current monthly plan (per month)

Fix your monthly plan charge extra
(per month)

Up to £14.99

50p

£15-£24.99

£1.00

£25-£34.99

£1.50

£35+

£2.00


Mid-contact price rises
The regulator, Ofcom, is currently looking into mid-contract price rises by telecoms companies.

It thinks customers should be allowed to exit a contract without penalty if price rises are announced during a fixed contract.

The investigation started after a number of firms pushes up prices for customers during a "fixed" contract. But as the consultation isn't expected to close until 14th March, and a final decision published by June, it's unlikely to have an impact for Orange and T-Mobile customers.

Today's announcement from EE is positive because it shows the operator is taking a stand against mid-contract rises by launching a fixed contract.

But as the current tariffs it offers were supposed to be set at a 'fixed' price, and the new contract it's offering will be more expensive, it's unlikely to go down well with customers.

Are you an Orange or T-Mobile customer? How do you feel about the price rises?


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10 consumer rights you should know
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3.3% mid-contract price hike for Orange and T-Mobile customers

The law states that any goods you buy from a UK retailer should be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.

This applies even if you buy items in a sale or with a discount voucher. You may have to insist on these rights being respected, though.

Useful phrases to use when you want to show you mean business include, "according to the Sale of Goods Act 1979" and, if it's a service, "according to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982".

Some shops will allow you to exchange goods without a receipt, but they can refuse to should they wish.

If the goods are faulty, however, another proof of purchase such as a bank statement should work just as well.

If you attempt to return goods within four weeks of the purchase, your chances of getting a full refund are much higher as you can argue that you have not "accepted" them.

After this point, you can only really expect an exchange, repair or part-refund.

The updated Consumer Credit Act states that card companies are jointly and severally liable for credit card purchases of between £100 and £60,260 (whether or not you paid just a deposit or the whole amount on your card).

Anyone spending between these amounts on their credit card is therefore protected if the retailer or service provider goes bust, their online shopping never arrives or the items in question are faulty or not as described.

Start by writing to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong. It will investigate the matter and find out whether you have been the victim of ID theft or a bank's mistake.

Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you how the bank has responded. If the bank agrees to change the entry, they will authorise the agency to update their records. They should also send updates to any other credit reference agencies they use.

You can also contact your lender directly to query a mistake. If the lender agrees to the discrepancy, ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead and send a copy to the agency, asking them to update your file.

The FOS settles disputes between financial companies such as banks and consumers.

If a financial organisation rejects a complaint you make about its services, you can therefore escalate that complaint to the FOS - as long as you have given the company in question at least eight weeks to respond.

The FOS will then investigate the case, and could force the company to offer you compensation should it see fit.

Bailiffs are allowed to take some of your belongings to sell on to cover certain debts, including unpaid Council Tax and parking fines.

They can, for example, take so-called luxury items such as TVs or games consoles. However, they cannot take essentials such as fridges or clothes.

What's more, they can only generally enter your home to take your stuff if you leave a door or window open or invite them in.

You are therefore within your rights to refuse them access and to ask for related documents such as proof of their identity. If they try to force their way in, you can also call the police to stop them.

Private sector debt collectors do not have the same powers as bailiffs, whatever they tell you.

They cannot, for example, enter your home and take your possessions in lieu of payment.

In fact, they can only write, phone, or visit your home to talk to you about paying back the debt. As with bailiffs, you can also call the police if you feel physically threatened.

Thanks to the Distance Selling Regulations, you actually have more rights buying online or by phone than on the High Street.

You can, for example, send most goods back within a week, for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault.

You will usually need to pay for the return delivery, though. The seller must then refund you within 30 days.

We enter into contracts all the time, whether it be to join a gym, switch energy supplier or take out a loan.

In most cases, once you've signed a contract, you are legally bound by it. In some situations, however, you have the right to cancel it within a certain timeframe.

Credit agreements, for example, can be cancelled within 14 days. And online retailers must tell you about your cancellation rights for any contract made up to stand up legally.

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