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BT hikes call charges for second time this year

BT daytime phone call cost up 34% since March 2009

BT logo

BT is upping its standard daytime call rates from 4.5p per minute to 5.25p per minute from 1 October 2009. 

This follows a similar BT price hike in April 2009 when the cost of making a standard BT daytime call increased from 3.91p per minute to its current rate of 4.5p per minute. Taken together, the two call cost increases equate to 1.34p per minute – a total increase of 34% in the cost of standard BT daytime calls. 

Call connection costs

BT, which compares unfavourably for customer satisfaction to other home phone companies in the Which? home phone services review, also plans to increase its call set-up fee for all non-inclusive calls a further 1.05p per call, a total increase of 2.2p per call since the start of the year.

All phone companies, including Virgin Media and TalkTalk, have call set-up fees that are a fixed fee you must pay to connect your call on top of any per minute charge, regardless of call length.

BT is informing BT home phone customers of the new charges in a two-page notice in BT’s Update magazine, which goes to all BT customers with their phone bill.

Hikes don’t apply to inclusive minutes

The changes do not apply to BT Basic, BT Light User Scheme and BT In-Contact Plus customers, and the call set-up fee for BT Fusion customers will also remain unchanged. 

In addition, calls made as part of inclusive weekend, evening or daytime call packages will remain free of any per-minute or call set-up charges. Most BT customers receive inclusive weekend calls as standard, and can opt in to inclusive evening calls in exchange for taking out a rolling 12 month contract.

BT Anytime

BT is advising customers to consider whether they would be better off moving to the BT Anytime calls package, which includes daytime calls, in order to avoid increases in daytime call prices and the set up fee. 

BT customers must pay an extra £4.95 a month for BT Anytime. 

Which? phones expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘Price rises are, unfortunately, a fact of life – although a 34% increase in certain call costs in less than a year seems pretty steep and BT customers might not even know about the new increases unless they read their BT Update magazines. 

‘Across all types of service, we think all companies should be as transparent as possible about any changes to their prices.

‘If you’re considering whether to pay for a monthly calls bundle, consider whether the number of calls you make justifies paying a fixed fee for inclusive minutes. BT’s price hikes have certainly shifted the level at which a call bundle is worthwhile.

‘For example, if you typically make 15 five minute daytime calls a month you will currently pay £4.58 a month for these calls – so it’s not worth paying £4.95 for BT Anytime. But under the new pricing structure, the same 15 calls will cost £5.30 a month, so if you regularly make this many calls it’s worth getting BT Anytime.’

If you don’t want to pay for BT call bundle but are concerned about the impact on your bills, look into other ways to save, such as bundling phone, broadband or TV services together or online billing.

Cheaper 0870 calls

BT’s price hikes announcement precede new rules about the cost of calling 0870 numbers that come into force on 1 August. 

Currently, it typically costs between 6p and 10p per minute to call 0870 numbers from landlines at peak times – it’s around 30p per minute from mobiles.  

The new rules will encourage phone companies to stop charging higher prices for calls to 0870 numbers from fixed lines and mobiles than calls to 01, 02 or 03 numbers.

Phone companies will also be encouraged to include 0870 calls in call packages on the same basis as geographic calls.

BT already gives BT customers free calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers within any inclusive calling plan, and as of 1 August, 0870 calls that aren’t part of a BT calling plan will cost the same as calling an 01 or 02 phone number.

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