BT retaliates in price hike row


BT has responded to claims of its ‘stealth’ price hikes for SME customers.

A spokesperson said: “A competitor has put together some figures to deliberately exaggerate the effect of some small price increases for BT business customers. These figures are not a clear reflection of the experience of our business customers,” said a spokesperson.

“The competitor has selected an ‘atypical’ profile. The profile they have identified also appears to have some very strange calling patterns and therefore throws into question the validity of the whole bill impact.”

But fixed line provider Unicom claimed BT price hikes over the past 18 months represent a significant increase to customers’ bills.

Unicom operations director Chris Earle (pictured) said: “Over the past 18 months BT has drip-fed price changes to their customers and the accumulative affect of those has been a 53 per cent increase. We have won a significant amount of business from BT customers on the standard tariffs.

“They have changed bits all over the place. Most of the customers on BT Business are not aware of them, because the prices are not distributed to them in anyway other than on its own website. It’s impossible for a normal customer to understand.”

BT increased its prices on December 1, with off-peak landline-to-mobile charges increasing from 12.9p per minute to 14p per minute. Other increases saw the call set-up fee increase 12.5 per cent from 7p to 8p and local peak call charges increasing from 5.5p to 6.5p. Customers signed to a fixed-rate monthly deal, typically 12 months or more, are not unaffected by the price increase.

BT announced earlier this year it plans to reduce capital expenditure by £1 billion with plans to cut 15,000 staff, around 10 per cent of its total workforce. It also increased standard customers’ line rental by £1 to £12.50, unless they opted for online billing, affecting around 14.5 million customers.

The BT spokesperson said: “It is always our intention to provide a value for money, and a comprehensive and quality service to our customers. We recently launched a BT Business One Plan package, which combines unlimited calls with a range of options including broadband and mobile, to allow businesses to control their monthly communications spend.

“The BT Business One Plan Inclusive packages offer unlimited calling minutes to UK landlines, UK mobiles, international destinations and 0845 and 0870 numbers for a fixed fee of £15 per month.”