Talkmobile joins the price rise gang

by , Conversation Editor Technology 16 April 2013
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This one almost slipped under the radar – another mobile provider is hiking prices for customers locked into fixed contracts. Talkmobile is increasing prices by around 3% for its pay-monthly customers.

Talkmobile logo

You can now count the number of mobile providers who haven’t hiked fixed contract prices on one hand. Talkmobile, a small provider owned by Carphone Warehouse, is the latest to follow the trend first started by Vodafone in 2011.

We’ve had two other price rises in 2013 alone – Orange customers’ bills went up on 10 April, and T-Mobile customers have recently been sent letters alerting them to their new price on 9 May.

Talkmobile increases mobile line rental prices

Described as a ‘small change to the price of your pay monthly mobile tariff’, Talkmobile’s price rise will hit customers from 1 June 2013 and varies between 10p to 55p extra a month, depending on your particular tariff. It will only hit your line rental, with no changes to calls, texts or data. Here’s how Talkmobile announced the hike:

‘At Talkmobile, we strive to always bring you value and to keep your monthly bills as low as possible. This is why, to date, we’ve avoided putting our tariff prices up. Even when our competitors raised theirs, we have not. But now, due to inflation, we’ve had to change the price of your pay monthly tariff slightly.’

As with the other providers’ price rises, it’s all in the small print. But as we’ve said many times before – that doesn’t make it right. Which? Convo commenter Derek expresses his disappointment:

‘After being messed around by Three, I switched to Talkmobile. Big mistake. I have only been with them six months and I have just been advised that my two year contract will increase by 3%. I don’t imagine this will be a one off. Very disappointed Ofcom allows this to happen.’

The mobile industry needs to change

Talking of Ofcom – its consultation into price rises during fixed contracts closed last month and we’re currently awaiting its decision. Ofcom’s preferred option is to let customers move on without penalty. However, with many major mobile providers telling the regulator why it should leave the industry untouched, we want to send this message to Ofcom – stick to your guns.

Fixed should mean fixed – if a provider puts prices up, then we think it has broken its promise and you should be free to leave without paying a penalty.

Have you got a mobile phone contract with Talkmobile – have you had a text or letter saying your prices are going up?

15 comments

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David

Like you, I am very surprised and disappointed that Talkmobile has taken this step – it amounts in my view to mis-selling, as although the price increases are small, the contracts are sold as fixed for 24 months etc and for TM to use the very small print on the back is very bad practice. I would not use them again if this stance is maintained.

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Anon

What this article conveniently doesn’t note is that it’s in line with the RPI rate of inflation and in some cases is as low as an extra 10p per month. If you honestly can’t afford this kind of increase you’re in no position to own a mobile contract in the first place.
It’s the consumers responsibility to read the full terms and conditions for anything they’re going to sign, and if they choose not to then they can only blame themselves.
The fact that contract prices go up is now common practise, if you’re dead against it your alternative is pay as you go, companies don’t owe you anything so stop feeling so entitled.

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wavechange

Anon – To my mind the issue is about fair treatment of customers. If the phone companies called their contracts Variable Price Contract and made it clear to every new customer that the monthly payment was likely to rise during the contract, that would be fine.

I cannot think of other examples of fixed period contracts where customers are faced by these price rises.

I fully support what Which? is trying to achieve in getting fair treatment of customers, even though I have never had a mobile phone contract.

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Anon

Don’t get me wrong I’m by no means advocating the practise, having my own contract increase in the last few months by another provider.

My point is it clearly states in the T’s and C’s the company has a right to do this, all I’m trying to state is that if a customer reads them and signs anyway they have no right to complain, the exact same scenario if they choose not to read what they’re signing up to in the first place.

Hopefully one day mobile phone companies will be prevented from doing this, but until then customers aren’t exactly victims. Well, maybe of their own ignorance.

Hi Anon, you’re right that with all these price rises, they are in line with RPI. However, to have a term in the small print that most people aren’t made aware of isn’t good enough. In our undercover investigation, when prompted with a question about whether the contract was for a fixed price, 82% of shop assistants told us that it was: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/technology/fixed-means-fixed/mystery-shopping-fixed-contracts/

People’s understanding is that a fixed term contract will be fixed in price – especially when shop assistants confirm this when they ask.

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wavechange

Patrick – Those of us who have been following this sorry tale know that the T&Cs allow for a price increase within the RPI change. I wonder what the legal position would be if the customer has been told that the price is fixed by a shop assistant, assuming the discussion was witnessed.

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Mark

In reply to wavechange I specifically asked the shop assistant when signing up for what is my first monthly contracts that the price will remain constant for the term of the contract. When I phoned them the other day to query the increase they were as surprised as me. They claim the first they knew was when they received the same text I did on their phones!!

This is a classic case of mis-selling whether deliberate or simply very poor training. Either way I seem to have no choice but to accept it.

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Tom

I have tried reading talk mobile’s T&Cs, they were printed on an a5 sheet.
Talk about “small print”….. It was smaller than the small print.
I could not read them !

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Peter

It was a suprise to recevie a text from Talkmobile saying a small increase, surely if I have a fixed contract they can’t increase it or does that change it to a variable contract?. If I have the right to cancel my “fixed” contract because of these changes I think that on principal I will do that, to make the point that you can’t treat people this way. If all the people who are in the same position did this it would make these companies sit up and take note. WHICH this would make a good campaign.

Completely agree Peter. I think people cancelling when they get these price rises would be a big sign to providers. Sadly it’s just not possible with exit penalties – which is we’re pushing Ofcom to get rid of penalties if prices go up with our Fixed Means Fixed campaign: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/technology/fixed-means-fixed/pledge-your-support/

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Bijoux

I’m really cheesed off to get the text telling me they are putting up the cost of my contract. It started in September last year and lasts for 24 months. I applied online and looking through the documents they sent, there is nothing stating they reserve the right to increase prices. What irritates me even more is they are still advertising my particular handset with the same contract for the original price. I think it’s noting short of racketeering. I’ve never got anywhere near the limits of my contract and as I never send MMS messages they know it’s unlikely they’ll ever get any more from me, so they put the price up. It’s just another aspect of their sharp practice, like the deposit of £50 which was never returned but credited to my account so my monthly fee is taken from the remaining credit. The deposit I was told would be refunded. Would I use them again, after this, NO.

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Justin

Cowboys, Different advisors say different things, I.e

One advisor said “Yes call back before the 10th and we can change your tarrif to a cheaper one”

Rang back

“NO, you cannot change your tarrif to a cheaper, you can have this more expensive one”

Never again.

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Maureen Jenner

I am sick of being pestered to change from Pay As you Go to a monthly contract with an updated instrument thrown in as part of a deal I don’t want. The small phone I have, and own, suits me for the only time I use it – when on the move as an emergency tool. I feel reassured, when out shopping or driving, that I can get in touch with someone, if I need to.

In view of improved technology, I am amazed that prices are allowed to increase at such an alarming rate, but it further serves to prove that government sponsored quangos, such as Telecom, are just fancy names for toothless, clawless pussy cats that ensure jobs for those lucky enough to be in favour, or who know the right strings to pull.

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John Ward

I also have no wish to change from a simple 2G phone on PAYG to anything more advanced. In my area we have just suffered a “no network coverage” loss of service from Vodafone that lasted over five days. I’m glad we don’t have to rely on the mobile phone and still have a landline for use in an emergency [not much help when out and about though, but luckily our other personal portable phone is on the Orange network - nowadays you need a back-up in case the safety net lets you down].

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wavechange

The ‘no network’ problem that John refers to could be overcome by automatically switching to a different network in the absence of a signal. I believe that the network providers do this to help ensure that emergency calls get through. This would do a lot for the credibility of the service providers and I’m sure that the companies can reimburse each other appropriately. Until this happens, I keep a spare mobile phone on a different network.

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