People over 66 will face a hefty increase on their telephone landline, following last December’s budget, but there are ways of counter-acting the hike if you shop around.
From now on the cost will increase by between €13 and €18 per month, which is a lot for pensioners struggling to make ends meet.
If you are aged over 66 you were entitled to an allowance of €22.58 but from 1 February will be reduced to €9.50. This means that if you are over 66 the first telephone bill you receive after that date will increase by at least €13.08 including VAT.
Why do I need to know about this now?
The majority of customers who fall into this category are with Eircom and those 270,000 will already have received letters (or are about to receive them).
If you are over 66 and with another provider for your landline (the minority) you may hear directly from your provider in the coming days or weeks.
But you may not. For example UPC landline customers who avail of the telephone allowance do so directly with the Department of Social Protection and UPC do not process it.
In either case the change or reduction will be automatically applied, so you don’t have to do anything.
(Note that for over 66s without a landline but who have a mobile, they apply for this allowance directly from the Department of Social Welfare for the mobile and it is paid via welfare payments. The amount will reduce accordingly also.)
If you are a Vodafone landline customer for example, it’s straightforward. Previously a credit of €22.58 would have been added to your bill and this was the telephone allowance. In your bill from February this credit will reduce to €9.50.
The bill increase will be €13.08
Eircom customers will see the biggest hike. This is because Eircom is currently also providing additional subsidies and these are set to end too.
This means that some Eircom customers will see these credits reduce from €28.09 down to €9.50, which means a monthly bill increase of €18.59.
How to negate the increase
The first thing to do is call your landline provider. It may be that there is a cheaper package you could be on that will cancel out the reduction in the allowance, so ask.
Eircom has a dedicated number for this issue is 1800 661 622.
Before you make the call, think about how you use your phone. Have answers to the following questions at the ready.
1. Do you just have it for security and only take incoming calls?
2. Do you make calls in the evenings, at weekends or all the time?
3. Do you call mobiles or landlines or overseas?
Knowing this information will help the customer service agent in suggesting the best package for your needs.
For example, one third of Eircom’s customers that are in receipt of the allowance are on a line rental and rate per call deal, rather than an ‘all-in’ monthly tariff. But once you’ve answered the questions above you could most likely do better on a monthly tariff or deal.
Eircom has a package for €25 a month that includes all landline calls at weekends, €30 for free off-peak calls (7pm to 7am) and €40 for unlimited landline calls anytime. Note that these prices include line rental, but if you make calls outside of the deal, they will be 5c or 6c a minute and calls to mobiles would be 22c or 25c per minute if not a Meteor / eMobile mobile (they are 5c to 10c). So be careful.
Vodafone has a deal for €30 for off-peak calls to landlines and it includes line rental and 200 off peak minutes to Vodafone mobiles, or €37 per month for calls to landlines at any time plus 200 minutes to three Vodafone mobile numbers. Remember if you call outside the deal, your bill will rise.
But there are other providers too, such as UPC, but others again that you may not even have heard about i.e. Pure Telecom, Imagine, Hive Telecom, IFA Telecom, CAN, Worldlink, so there is choice out there.
You could also consider doing without your landline altogether and sticking with a mobile phone. Consider this an option, especially if you don’t use the landline very often.
You should also look at deals combining landlines and broadband deals – sometimes these work out cheaper with the broadband provider covering the cost of the line rental from Eircom.
You can compare costs of landline for your needs and results from all these operators will appear on www.callcosts.ie (a web site run by Comreg, the Communications Regulator.
(You can check and compare costs of landline plus broadband packages on that site also, if your landline is part of a bundle).