How to read your bill

Reading your bill regularly can help you keep track of your spending and quickly spot any problems. Your phone bill will be made up of three charges:

  • Line rental: This is the monthly charge you pay for the use of your phone. You may have some calls included in this price, like evening and weekend calls.

  • Additional usage: This covers the cost of any calls you make that are not included in your package. They will be added to your bill after you have made any extra calls.

  • One off charges: These include the cost of engineer visits, late payments or new equipment, like wireless routers to setup broadband.

You can choose to get a paper bill in the post, or to access your bill via your online account. Your phone provider may offer a discount for online billing, so speak to them about switching if you currently get your bill by post.

What if your bill is wrong?

It is rare, but you may find that your bill is wrong because:

  • You have been charged for calls you have not made

  • Extra charges have applied to inclusive calls that should be free

  • You have been charged more than your agreed call rate

If you think you have been overcharged, you should follow these steps:

  1. Contact your landline provider (their number will be on your bill)

  2. Explain the problem and ask them to recalculate your bill

  3. If the problem is still not resolved, make a written complaint to your provider

If your provider does not resolve your billing error within eight weeks, contact the Ombudsman Services or the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS).

The Ombudsman Services and CISAS are Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services. This means they act independently to help you reach a solution with your provider.

How to make changes

Depending on your phone company, you should be able to make changes to your service by calling their customer service team or by logging into your online account:

Change your tariff

You may want to ask your supplier to put you on a different tariff if:

  • You are regularly using more than your inclusive calls

  • You want to add extras, like calls to mobiles or international calls

  • You want to create a bundle, by adding broadband or TV to your package

  • You cannot afford the price of your current tariff

Most providers let you tailor your landline package via your online account. Alternatively, you can call the number on your bill and speak to a customer service adviser about changing your tariff.

Change your number

You may want to change your phone number if:

  • You have moved house and still get calls for the previous occupier

  • You want to prevent unwanted personal calls

  • You are receiving nuisance sales calls

Most companies let you change your phone number for no extra cost, but you should double check with your supplier by contacting their customer service team.

Switch phone company

You could save money by switching to a new phone company and the process is simple:

  1. 1.

    Check your existing contract to see if you can switch: You may be tied into your existing contract, or have to pay the remaining payments if you leave early.

  2. 2.

    Cancel your current tariff: Your new supplier may be able to handle the switch on your behalf, or you may need to cancel your current tariff.

  3. 3.

    Confirm the switch: You will get a 14-day cooling off period from your new provider, which means you can cancel without being charged if you change your mind.

You may not be able to switch provider if you rent your home, so double check your tenancy agreement before you speak to your phone company.

How to handle problems

If you have problems with your bills or your service, you should speak to your phone company as soon as possible, so they can offer you a solution:

Difficulty paying your bill

Contact your supplier as soon as possible to see if you can be put on a payment plan to pay off what you owe.

They may also be able to put a spend limit on your account, where you cannot make outgoing calls once you have reached your limit.

You may be able to cancel your contract early without paying a fee, but you will still need to pay back anything you owe if you are in debt.

You can get help about managing debt on the Citizens Advice website.

Faulty service

If there is a fault on your phone line, the following steps can help you fix the problem:

  • Check your equipment: The fault may be with your home phone rather than your service, so try plugging in another handset to see if you can get a dial tone.

  • Check your wiring: A new lead or a change to your wiring could cause problems with your phone, so try different leads to try to solve the problem.

  • Check your phone company's website: If there is a known fault with service nationwide, they may post updates about the problem on their homepage.

If the problem continues, speak to your provider and ask them to fix the fault. If the repairs take a long time or are disruptive, you may be entitled to compensation.

You can find out more about being compensated for poor service on the Ofcom website.

Stop nuisance calls

You can register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to stop unwanted calls, like:

  • Telephone marketing calls

  • Sales calls

  • Calls at inconvenient times

You can also report silent or abandoned calls to the telecommunications regulator Ofcom.

Moving home

You should let your provider know six weeks before you move home. Most suppliers do not charge to move your service, unless you need a new line installed which can cost up to 130.

If there is a working phone line at your new home, it should only take a few days to switch your service. If a new line needs to be installed, it may take 15 days for your landline to work.

Most phone providers let you take your existing number with you when you move. However, if you move outside your local exchange area you may need a new number.

Price increases

You can cancel your landline without paying a fee if the price goes up, unless you were told of planned price increases when you signed up.

If your phone company plans to put the cost of your tariff up, shop around for new deals to make sure you get the best price.

This could also be a good time to think about getting rid of your landline.