What's happening to home phone costs?
Like energy bills, the amount the average person pays for landline calls has been going up this year. Telecoms giant BT dealt the latest blow, announcing plans to raise call charges for residential customers by up to 5 per cent. From 3 December, UK landline calls will go up from 7.6p to 7.95p a minute, while line rental prices will also rise.
Will bills continue to rise?
When announcing this increase, BT said that its prices would now be frozen until 2013. Sky has made a similar commitment, but it's almost inevitable that other providers will respond to BT's move with further hikes of their own.
How can I reduce my costs?
One of the first things to check is that you are on the right calling plan for your needs. If, for example, you make frequent calls during the day and are not on an "anytime" calling plan you should consider switching. Those affected by the hikes may also benefit from contacting their suppliers' customer services teams and threatening to switch unless they get a better deal. Make sure too that you are paying your bills in the most cost-effective way. Paying by direct debit reduces your bill by about £5.
What about bundles?
If you have home broadband and digital TV services, then the cheapest way to get these plus your home phone is to opt for a so-called bundle that lumps them all in together. This is because the major providers all offer significant discounts for customers who buy their services this way. With BT, for example, you could get broadband, "anytime" calls and unlimited" TV for about £525 a year.
Can't I just use my mobile?
If you have free mobile-to-mobile minutes on your contract phone, then use these to call other mobiles.