Alternatives to BT – 5 Tips to save money

Looking at tips for BT customers to save money in 2009. With 12 million BT customers bracing themselves for escalating bills, Lisa Bachelor from the Guardian Newspaper looks at alternative services and the savings to be made.

Frustrated customers of BT have been venting their anger after the telecoms giant announced it will be putting its prices up for the second time this year. Call costs rose in April 2009 and will do the same again on 1 October 2009, making calls 34% more expensive than they were in the first quarter of this year.

From October 2009, they will be charged at 5.25p per minute, up from 3.91p at the beginning of the year. The set-up fee – the cost of connecting a call – will rise to 9p, up from 6.85p in January. The move will hit 12 million of BT’s 14 million customers. Only those on its £4.95-a-month Anytime package will not be affected. To compound the bad news, no official announcement was made; customers only read of the change in the magazine that BT sends out with its bills.

Internet users were the first to express their anger last week. “They’ve always been a rip-off. Compared with other country’s phone charges, BT was usually double,” said one disgruntled visitor. “My advice is, run away from BT while your legs can still carry you,” said another contributor.

But is it possible to run away from BT? Absolutely. And even if you decide to stay, there are ways to cut your bills. Here’s how.

OPTION 1: Switch to another provider

Gone are the days when you had to stick with BT as your landline provider. A number of other companies, including TalkTalk, the Post Office and Madasafish, will take it over.

As well as offering cheaper line rental, these companies are also cheaper for connecting a line in a new home.

Madasafish – whose parent company is owned by BT, so it’s not a total escape – charges £115 for line installation compared with BT’s £122.50.

  • Line rental is £9.78 a month;
  • BT charges £12.50 (or £11.25 by direct debit).
  • It also offers free weekend and evening calls to UK landlines. has what it claims is the cheapest stand-alone line rental deal in the UK.
The Primus Home Phone Saver package offers free evening and weekend calls to UK landlines and costs £9.49 per month for line rental. It is available until the end of August 2009.

New mother Helen Thomas, 33, switched from BT a few weeks ago. “I noticed the change in prices in April, but it took me a while to get round to switching,” she says. The fundraising manager, mother to 14-month-old Luca, ended up moving her landline rental to YourCalls at £10 a month. “I only really use it for broadband so I just wanted cheap deal,” she says.

Some readers have recommended The Phone Co-op, a member-owned ethical company. Line rental is £11.65 per month (direct debit £10.67) and it installs a new line for £113.85. Alternatively, you could switch to cable with Virgin Media. This won’t be your cheapest bet if you just want a phone line, but it is much more cost-effective for those who also want broadband and/or TV.

If you want broadband on the cheapest deal, TalkTalk includes free evening and weekend national calls, plus anytime local calls, for just shy of £20 a month.

If you are moving, check your contract. You could be liable for cancellation fees.

OPTION 2: Ditch the landline

Who needs one? That’s the opinion of a growing breed who just use their mobile. If you only make a few calls, a cheap sim-only deal (you buy a sim card to put into an existing mobile phone) will offer you plenty of free texts and talk minutes. O2’s Simplicity deal is £14.69 a month, on a one-month contract, with 300 free call minutes and 600 free texts.

If you want broadband too, get a dongle to insert in your computer to allow you to surf the net. Packages start at about £15 a month, but will typically tie you in for 18 months to two years.

OPTION 3: Kick out those extras

Make sure you are not paying for things you don’t use. BT will charge you for its 1571 voicemail if you don’t make at least two calls a month. It is also cheaper to opt for paperless billing and to pay by direct debit. With BT, this reduces monthly line rental from £12.50 to £11.25.

OPTION 4: Stick with BT … but avoid its costliest call charges

You might be perfectly happy with BT but unhappy at its call charges. One cunning way around this is to rent your line from BT but dial a prefix before making your most expensive calls. These work by cutting the cost of international and mobile calls.

There are more than 20 companies offering this service, all with different rates, and include:

OPTION 5: Move to BT … but avoid its installation fee

OK, so you thought you were reading this article to find ways around paying BT. But, if you are about to move house or need a second phone line, it might actually be worth your while (at least financially) signing up – before the end of September, that is.

BT has an offer it doesn’t publicise: you get a new line for free – saving you its £122.50 installation fee – if you sign up to an 18-month contract and make 30 chargeable calls in every three-month period.

Sourced from guardian Newspaper [Link]

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