Wednesday 17 October 2018

Festive financial squeeze as six companies hike prices on same day

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Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The start of December is set to mean financial misery for thousands of households as a raft of price rises takes effect.

Broadband and TV providers Sky and Vodafone have price increases kicking in from the start of the new month.

Four energy companies are also set to hike their prices from today. These include Energia, Flogas, PrePayPower and Pinergy.

The price increases are set to put pressure on household budgets and come just ahead of the expensive Christmas period.

The rises will mean that a household that gets its gas from Flogas, electricity from Pinergy, TV from Sky and landline from Vodafone will be hit with four price hikes in one day, adding up to €250 to its annual bills.

Chairman of the Consumers' Association Michael Kilcoyne questioned if allowing utility companies like electricity and broadband providers to set their own prices was working for consumers.

"Official inflation is very low. These increases are multiples of the rate of inflation, so clearly companies are jacking up prices just to boost their profits.

"Perhaps it is time to return to the regulation of prices. There is no justification for these increases at a time when consumers are hard-pressed and workers are getting pay rises of about 2pc," Mr Kilcoyne said.

Charlie Weston: We are the price-rise champions

Vodafone Ireland is raising prices for some of its voice and broadband customers on older, legacy packages. Among the plans that will be increased in price is Simply Talk, which is rising from €30 per month to €40. Other plans going up in price include the company's Simply Broadband service, which rises by €7 per month.

Sky Ireland average bills are set to increase for some customers by between €2 and €4 a month from December.

Energia's electricity price goes up by 3.9pc, which will add €31 to the average annual bill.

Gas provider Flogas is putting through a rise of 3.3pc in its tariffs, which ads €20 to annual charges for typical households.

Prepaid meter provider Pinergy has one of the largest rises at 5.6pc, which will add €41 to electricity bills. Electricity bills will also rise for those using PrePayPower, another prepaid meter provider, adding €34 to average annual bills.

Mark Whelan, of energy price comparison site, said the rises will mean today will be a day to forget for thousands of households, as six major price hikes take effect.

"The increases, which come at a very bad time for consumers, could add hundreds of euro to annual bills."

Asked if it plans to investigate the fact most energy suppliers have announced price hikes within weeks of each other, and electricity is so expensive here, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said it was not aware of any cartel-like activity.

Irish Independent

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