If you are an Orange or Vodafone customer who is on pay as you go, look away now. Both mobile networks have been given the green light to start charging even more money for calling and sending text messages.
This comes after OfCom initially decreased the amount that mobile operators can charge for calls to each other, that being called the termination rate. According to Cnet UK, the companies like Vodafone and Orange made up for the charge reductions by increasing charges in other areas. So essentially consumers saved no money as a result of OfCom’s initial actions.
Unless you are on a PAYG deal that yields free texts and minutes, you will be in for some unpleasant extra charges when you use your phone as normal. Calls on Orange now cost 25p a minute, with texts being increased from 10p to 12p each. The best option we can recommend is to take advantage of their top up deals which can for example bag you a months worth of unlimited texts for just £5.
Vodafone is slightly less bad, with minimum call charges on some contracts which do not offer free minutes, ranging from 15p to 25p. If you are a Vodafone PAYG customer then expect calls to be charged at 21p to 25p per minute. The reason that the operators keep cranking up the prices on pay as you go deals could be to force more customers to take out contract. The method in which companies like Vodafone and Orange are doing this could not be described as tempting, more as bullying. We saw a few months back how UK contract users waste £200 on average a year because they are on the wrong contract tariff.
The mobile networks have even blamed OfCom for the rise in charges that consumers are having to endure. A representative from Vodafone stated that as a result of OfCom’s “dramatic and rapid” reduction of the termination rate, pay as you go costs would rise as a consequence. According to Mobile Today, an Orange spokeswoman confirmed that PAYG charges would also rise after a review of pricing structures, although maintaining that customers were still getting the best value and services.
An Ofcom spokesperson said: “There is a lot of competition in the mobile market and we urge consumers to shop around to get the best deal for them. When we cut wholesale mobile termination rates – the high rates that mobile operators were charging each other to end calls on their networks – we did so in a way that would increase choice for consumers and lead to cheaper landlines calls. We have already seen some operators improving deals for consumers as a result of our decision.”
OfCom has defended the changes they have made to the mobile regulation, stating that it was acting to give consumers an increase in choice and a decrease in charges for landline calls. The new regulation may have helped many but unfortunately it has left others on pay as you go customers with lighter pockets. Are these pricing changes fair on the consumer? Get in touch with us and let your thoughts be known by leaving a comment.
Update: OfCom has informed us that they have not given the mobile operators Orange and Vodafone permission to increase their charges, it is a commercial decision they have made themselves. Apologies for any confusion and inconvenience this may have caused.