Orange and Vodafone pay-as-you-go customers face rocketing call costs.
From today Orange will charge an extra 25% on calls to mobiles, landlines and voicemail and a 20% increase in the cost of texting.
Meanwhile, Vodafone pay-as-you-go customers who are not on the operator’s Simply tariff will see their minimum call charge rocket to 66%, while those customers on the Simply tariff will see the cost of their calls to mobiles, landlines and voicemail rise 19% and the cost of texting rise 20% from 14 July.
Referring to the price hikes, Ernest Doku of price comparison website u.Switch.com said: ‘Pay-as-you-go customers are being hit with a double whammy of price increases – with both calls and texts going up they will be counting the cost whenever they pick up their mobile phone.
‘Orange and Vodafone are two of the biggest networks and it's our only hope that the others don't follow suit. As it stands we expect around nine million prepay customers to be affected by these hikes. It's a real kick in the teeth for cash-strapped consumers that are already struggling to make ends meet.’
A Vodafone spokesman said: ''We believe we continue to offer great value for all pay as you go customers compared with our competitors. This price rise comes after recent regulatory changes. During our discussions with Ofcom over mobile termination rates, we stressed that if the rates came down rapidly and dramatically, the cost of pay as you go was likely to rise as a consequence.'
An Orange spokeswoman said: ‘Following a review of our pricing structure, we can confirm that Orange will be making some changes to its pay-as-you-go price plans from 1st July including improvements to Orange top up rewards and Extras. Orange pay-as-you-go top up rewards are now richer and Extras are available to more customers.
'We remain committed to providing the best value and services possible for our customers including free rewards for topping up from just £5, Phone Fund where we give customers money towards a brand new phone, Magic Numbers where you can speak for an hour for the price of a minute and of course Orange Wednesdays.’
The price rises come as the European Commisssion today ordered mobile operators to cap roaming charges, raising fears that operators are passing on the cost of plummeting roaming charges to its home customers.
From today customers pay no more than 32p a minute for calls made - down 3p - and 10p a minute for calls received while within the EU.
The EU wants to bring overseas call rates much closer in line with domestic call rates. New regulation on data pricing and competition practices is to be announced next week.
This latest price fall sees roaming charges down by around 75% compared to six years ago when the EU first prompted operators to cut their rates voluntarily.
Nick Wright of price comparison webiste billmonitor said: ‘While any reduction in extortionate roaming prices are of course welcome, the latest price cuts will leave few regular roaming customers rushing to make calls while on their summer holiday.
‘The 10% cut in outbound roaming call prices will certainly help, but as the 40% of us who make roaming calls well know, it will be a drop in the ocean relative to already very high costs.’