TalkTalk (TK6.F) customers have lashed out at the company as they are set to be potentially hit with a £24 ($32) a year price increase despite being locked into fixed-rate broadband contracts.
The firm said the unexpected rise in its costs was caused by the pandemic and a dramatic rise in internet use over the last year as people were forced to work from home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Last month TalkTalk, which has more than 4 million customers, emailed users to say that the prices would be going up £2 a month from 1 April.
It also announced that prices will start rising by 3.7% plus inflation (consumer prices index) every April from 2022 onwards, in order to bring it into line with its competitors.
It follows a number of big broadband providers that have announced price hikes in recent weeks.
“Over this extraordinary last year, we’ve seen broadband usage soar by 40% and we’ve had to invest heavily in our network as a result,” TalkTalk said. “Unfortunately, this has meant that, alongside other ISPs [internet service providers] such as BT (BT-A.L), Virgin and Sky, we have had to raise our prices.
It added: “TalkTalk’s commitment to always provide affordable broadband for all is resolute. Our prices remain lower than our major competitors and these changes are smaller than the rises recently outlined by several of our competitors.”
READ MORE: Sky to hike UK prices by up to £72 a year
The company has also launched a new Fixed Price Plus contract, which it claims it will honour this time around.
A spokesperson from regulator Ofcom said: “Providers must clearly and prominently set out any future price rises in the contract when you sign up. If a provider puts prices up by more than the amount, the customer has 30 days to leave the contract without facing any exit penalties.”
The news comes after reports that some of Britain’s largest broadband providers have been letting down their customers on connection reliability, internet speeds and value for money during the health crisis.
According to Which?’s annual customer satisfaction survey, seven in 10 (69%) respondents said they suffered an issue with their connection in the past 12 months — a substantial increase on last year’s survey.
The most common problems experienced during the COVID health crisis were very low speeds and more frequent dropouts, compared to before the pandemic began.
Almost half of the 4,478 adult respondents (48%) said they had been left without a connection for more than a day, while around four in 10 (44%) reported that they had been left without internet for more than an hour.
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