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Ring, ring! Sky hikes line rental prices

The price of Sky’s line rental is increasing by £2.25 per month for everyone, new and existing customers alike. It’s a hefty 18% price rise, from £12.25 to £14.50 a month. So can you get out of your contract?

Over the weekend a letter popped through my door from Sky. After a preamble telling me how satisfied its customers were, the letter got to the point – Sky was writing to tell me that the price of my line rental was going up by £2.25 to £14.50. The rise takes effect on 1 December, but as customers pay a month in advance, the first charge will be in November.

This follows an increase on my Sky TV package of £1.50 per month. Together, the price rises will add £45 on to my yearly bill. That’s a bit much as far as I’m concerned, especially since I’m struggling to keep up with my Sky bills – I have phone, broadband and TV with them.

Can you cancel Sky Talk without charge?

Also, the line rental price rise is 18% higher than it used to be, which is way above the current rate of inflation.

Luckily, I’m outside of my 12 month minimum term with Sky, so I can cancel without penalty. However, the price rise is affecting customers who are still in their minimum term – can they cancel without charge? The Sky call handler I spoke to implied that they would have to pay the remainder of their contract to cancel – that is not true.

A Sky spokesperson told us that ‘if a current customer is not happy with the changes, they are free to move their phone services to another provider without charge’.

How much notice should you give

So you can definitely move on without penalty, but how much notice do you need to give?

One of my colleagues has not long been with Sky, so he gave them a call. The call handler told him that ‘if you want to get out of your contract you could cancel it without penalty if you’re not happy with the price increase […] with 14 days notice’.

When we looked deeper into the Sky Talk contract, we found that you don’t have to give 14 days notice, but just 7 days. It says that if ‘you reasonably consider this to be to your material disadvantage’ you may terminate the contract on 7 day’s notice providing you notify Sky within one calendar month of being told about the price rise.

However, I’d like to provide a slight warning – you’re only eligible to get out of your Sky Talk contract. Contractually, Sky doesn’t have to let you out of your Sky TV contract as well. Even though there was a TV price rise too, it’s too late to notify the company you’d like to leave.

Line rental price rises all round

If you do cancel your line rental with Sky, where do you go? TalkTalk increased its line rental earlier this year, from £13.80 to £14.50, following a previous hike in October 2011. And BT’s also putting up its line rental prices from January 2013 to the even higher £15.45 – BT will let you cancel without penalty if you let them know within 10 days of finding out about the price rise. So, Sky’s line rental is still one of the cheapest.

If you’re not happy with Sky’s price rise (or BT’s) I’d suggest you complain to them over the phone. After expressing your right to cancel, they’ll likely put you through to their retention team. I had a good haggle with Sky and was offered six months half-price line rental, which amounts to £43 in compensation – that was enough to keep me happy.

Of course, there’s still the underlying feeling that these price rises for existing customers aren’t quite right. Do you think it’s right for Sky or BT to hit customers with these price hikes, even if these customers are allowed to leave without penalty?