8/27/2008 11:05:00 AM
3 set for price hike as per second ends
3 customers could see their phone bills spike next month as the operator stops charging customers per second for calls, and will instead round up to the minute.
3 has also instigated a new £4 monthly surcharge for customers who do not wish to pay their bills by direct debit.
Charges will also now be levied £1 per month if customers want an itemised paper bill, instead of an electronic bill accessible through the My3 portal.
Customers were informed of the new charges and the outline of the new policy last week. The new charges will start from 23 September.
Orange first introduced per-second billing and revolutionised the market in 1995. One former Orange director said: ‘We calculated at the time that the customer would make a saving of around 20% from per-second billing but I don’t know if that would immediately mean the customer now sees a 20% increase in their bill.’
The exact increase in a customer’s monthly spend is difficult to pinpoint, as a customer who comfortably stays within the allocated bundled minutes won’t be affected by the change to per-minute billing.
However, with calls rounded up to minutes, customers could see their minutes draining faster and subsequently incur larger bills.
A spokesman for 3 said: ‘Every business looks at its cost base and how best it can balance the need to fund its operations and serve its customers.’
T-Mobile is the only other network to charge per minute instead of per second.
On the subject of charging for paper bills, the spokesman added: ‘Half of our customers already use [electronic bills] and use it regularly to get an up-to-the-minute view of their spending.
‘With very little promotion from ourselves, hundreds of thousands of our customers have already selected e-bills as a matter of preference.’