Simplifydigital.co.uk Discovers that More Households Could Save Money on Home Phone Calls

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A third of households have not changed their home phone provider in over 5 years and are likely to be wasting big money as a result.

As many people tighten their belts, most have made a real effort to reduce their household bills. The most obvious targets are energy, car and home insurance, mortgages and personal loans. The slightly more determined have also no doubt, looked at digital TV and broadband bills, as there are big savings to be made by bundling the services together.

But it is the humble home phone line and call plans that often get overlooked - particularly as more and more people rely increasingly on mobiles for the majority of calls. Indeed, recent research by home phone comparison, broadband comparison and digital TV comparison service Simplifydigital.co.uk, shows that a third of households have not changed their home phone provider in over 5 years.

The result is that the majority of households are sitting on big potential savings without even knowing it. The example below shows a busy family, who by switching to the most appropriate call plan (in this case to Sky) would be over £315 per year better off.

Home phone costs consist of the line rental (paid monthly) and the cost of the call plan on top. There is not much variation in the cost of line rental, which varies from £10 to £11.25 per month. But there are big differences in the cost of the calls between suppliers and some important things to watch out for when choosing.

Top 5 watch outs when choosing a home phone service

1. Match the household's broad call habits to the right call plan. For example, if calls are usually made during the day, make sure that the household has an inclusive daytime call plan. It is amazing how many people have not checked to see which call plan they are on.

2. Costs to mobiles can be a killer. And costs to the 3 mobile network are especially high for some providers (e.g. Virgin Media's standard rate calls to mobiles is 14p per minute, relative to 26p per minute for calls to 3 mobile). So check the rates the provider offers.

3. Packages that come with free calls - e.g. "free evening and weekend calls" have a fair usage policy which means that there will be charges for the calls after 60 minutes of conversation. The trick is to hang up and dial again.

4. Companies often charge about £1/month for paper billing and people who don't pay by direct debit will get penalized to the tune of about £4 per quarter. So opt for online billing and pay by direct debit.

5. And the biggest watch out of all. For those who have a broadband or digital TV service, think about bundling the services with the home phone. People who buy their services from separate providers on average pay considerably more. TalkTalk for example offer "free" broadband with their basic home phone service and Sky offer free evening and weekend calls with their basic TV service.

Identifying the exact potential cost saving for a household is complex as it is dependent on the household's unique pattern of calls. So for simplicity we have grouped households into categories to determine a likely potential cost saving.

Busy family making regular daytime calls during the week

For the purposes of this example assume that the family has Sky TV and regularly makes local and national calls during the day, as well as regular calls to mobiles. If this is the case, there are big savings to be had by getting a call plan with inclusive daytime calls, because calls during the day without an inclusive talk plan can mean that consumers will be paying through the nose.

BT's basic "Unlimited Weekend Plan" charges 4.5p per minute for daytime calls, so a family spending 20 minutes on the phone per day to landlines will be spending £18 per month on national calls alone.

If for example they are spending another 20 minutes per day on calls to mobiles (which BT charge at 12.5p per minute), this would add up to another £50 per month, making a total of £68 per month excluding line rental!

In contrast the pick of the anytime call plans are listed below.

Sky Talk Unlimited (£5 per month for Sky TV customers)

This package is only available for Sky TV customers. It is very good value and gives unlimited free national daytime calls, plus free calls to 20 international destinations including France and the US. And importantly calls to mobiles would be just 9p per minute. So instead of paying £68 per month, the family would pay a total of £42 per month (excluding line rental) and benefit from the free international calls - making a saving of about £27 per month or £315 per year.

TalkTalk UK Anytime

The TalkTalk package is another great value plan. For £4.49 per month you get free daytime calls (this rises to £5.49 per month after 12 months). Calls to mobiles are 12p per minute and you also pay for calls to international destinations. But on this basis the family would still expect to save about £186 per year (£15.50 per month)

BT Unlimited Anytime Plan

Moving to this plan would not involve switching from BT. It costs £4.95 per month for free daytime, evening and weekend calls. Calls to mobile cost 12.5p per minute and BT's standard international call charges apply. But by switching to this plan, the family would still save £13 per month or £157 per year.

A major drawback of the BT package is that it ropes the consumer in to a 12 month "renewable contract" which automatically gets extended to an additional twelve months, after the completion of the initial 12.

Skype

The family might also consider a VOIP service like Skype. They offer big opportunities to save, but require a broadband connection (as the calls go over the internet). Skype offers free calls to other Skype users wherever they are in the world and also offer a package of free calls to domestic landlines anytime for £3.39 per month. And unlimited calls to landlines in over 40 countries worldwide for £7.99 per month.

In summary, for the majority of households it is definitely worthwhile reviewing their home phone package by digging out the old bills, checking the call plan they are on, and seeing if they can save!

Comparison sites such as the Ofcom accredited Simplifydigital (http://www.simplifydigital.co.uk) offer an excellent place to start. Simplifydigital also offer impartial advice free over the phone on 0800 1 388 388. Their experts will note your exact call behavior and find the best fit package for the biggest saving.

About Simplifydigital

Simplifydigital.co.uk offers a unique service in the UK, providing a free and impartial consultation for anyone looking to save money and compare broadband, compare digital TV, or compare home phone services.

Simplifydigital cuts through the confusion; offers the widest range of digital service providers available (including Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, AOL, Orange, 02, Top UpTV etc); and manages the customer through the install of the services.

It is the only retailer of digital TV, broadband and home phone services in the UK to have been accredited by Ofcom as impartial and transparent and on average saves customers over £300 pa by finding them better deals. Customers call their London-based experts free on 0800 1 388 388 or use their online service at http://www.simplifydigital.co.uk.

Contact details
Charlie Ponsonby
CEO Simplify Digital Limited
M: 07703 502 634
DL: 020 3159 4071

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