Customers who buy landline-only services from BT look set to get at least £5 off their monthly bill as part as new plans from industry watchdog Ofcom.
They say the telecommunications giant has failed a “vulnerable” group of elderly users, and now wants them to make amends by reducing phone-only service bills by around £60 per year.
Here’s the problem: landline-only users will typically pay around £19 a month purely to use the simple service. But other customers are getting both phone and broadband deals in one package, often for a similar price.
Ofcom’s Chief Executive Sharon White said in a statement: “Line rental has been going up, even as providers’ costs come down. This hurts people who rely on their landline the most, and are less likely to shop around for a better deal. We think that’s unacceptable.”
She added: “So we plan to cut BT’s charge for customers who take only a landline, to ensure that vulnerable customers get the value they deserve.”
Ms White said this group had seen their bills rise by around 30% over the past few years, while the cost to BT (and other operators providing the same service) had fallen by 25%.
In response, BT said it took its responsibilities “very seriously”.
A spokesperson said: “Unlike other companies, we have many customers on special tariffs for socially excluded or vulnerable customers.
They added: “Recently, we have frozen the cost of line rental for all of our customers who take a BT phone line.”
While Ofcom have taken issue with BT’s pricing, they aren’t alone in raising their prices. Without naming any names, the industry regulator said that across the board line rental prices had risen from 25% to 49% between December 2009 and December 2016. Meanwhile the wholesale price fell by around 26%.