Senior Personal Finance Journalist, Amelia Murray writes,
'I told Virgin Media I knew it was charging others less and it cut my bill by £444 a year'
Thousands of people could be paying hundreds of pounds more each year for their mobile and broadband than others on the same contract, according to new data.
The website ismybillfair.com, which allows users to enter details of their household bills and compare the cost with others, said some Sky customers claim to be paying just £80 a month for broadband, home phone and TV packages, while others are spending £160 for the same thing.
The cheapest reported Sky TV contract costs £54 a month, according to the data, which looked at billing details submitted by 7,000 people.
Sky customers said they were paying £116 a month at the top end.
EE customers on Sim-only deals with unlimited texts and minutes with 2-4GB of data could be paying between £10 and £49 a month for their package, according to the research. The average bill is £23.
The same O2 contract can cost £11 to £28 a month, or £21 on average.
Three charges £23 a month on average for unlimited calls, texts and data, but some customers say they are paying £41 a month. Others are charged just £18.
Alastair Gough, who works for an internet company and lives in Wimbledon, used the information he found on ismybillfair.com to haggle down his Virgin Media bill and cut the monthly cost by £40.
He said he was paying £60 or £70 a month for his Virgin Media package five years ago. This included HD TV, superfast broadband and a landline.
Over the years the cost grew, and he also added other features such as Sky channels. One month the bill came to £120.
Mr Gough, 32, said he knew his package was expensive but he was able to justify it.
“I pay more for Sky Sports but I’d tell myself it’s cheaper than going to the pub”, he said.
After a shock bill of £134 in February, due to a call his wife made to Argentina, he googled “Is my Virgin Media bill fair” and came across the website.
He entered his package details and found he was paying the most by a long stretch.
“Some people were paying between £60 and £80 for what appeared to be the same package as mine,” he said.
He called up the provider and asked it to reduce his bill. He said Virgin Media first offered to cut the monthly cost to £98. But after pushing further he said it agreed to £83 a month, saving him £444 a year.
Mr Gough said: “You have no idea what others are paying, which makes it impossible to know when you’re being ripped off.”
There are a number of reasons for the price disparity in the telecoms industry. Cheap deals for new customers are widespread.
Providers also often introduce new packages or tariffs with improved features, such as faster internet speed, at cheaper prices than existing customers are paying. So a new customer could find they get more for their money while others languish on legacy packages.
A spokesman for Virgin Media said its deals can vary in price depending on the service, and some may include discounts for a limited period of time. He said customers can also get in touch at the end of their contract to check they’re on the best plan.
O2 said the price range suggested by ismybillfair.com will be down to a “number of factors” such as promotional offers and discounts.
A spokesman said it was not clear what the information was based on and it didn’t take into consideration what type of tariff the Sim-only deal was.
BT and EE declined to comment.
Sky said the survey “misrepresents the flexibility and choice” offered to customers.
TalkTalk said it was “committed” to providing current and prospective customers with the best deals. Three said the prices it charges for different products vary over time depending on market conditions.