Here we go again, T-Mobile hikes prices for existing customers

by , Social Media Manager Technology 28 March 2012
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One of the UK’s major mobile operators has decided to hike its prices – even if you’re on a fixed contract. Sound like déjà vu? Orange did this last year, but now T-Mobile wants more pennies from your pocket.

Man angry on mobile

T-Mobile has decided to raise prices for its contracts by 3.7% – this applies even if you’re on a fixed contract. There are a couple of contracts that are exempt: the Full Monty and You Fix tariffs are relatively new, so prices on these will stay the same. But millions of other T-Mobile customers will see their next bill rise.

T-Mobile says the price rise, just under £1 per month for a £25 contract,  is down to ‘the rising costs of the business, linked to inflation [and] our desire to continually invest in our network and propositions to provide the best service for our customers.’

But if Orange’s price rise is anything to go by (T-Mobile and Orange are both part of Everything Everywhere) talk like this is unlikely to calm the storm of customers calling to cancel their contracts. The problem is, if you’re in a contract, you can’t cancel…

Is this a breach of contract?

Well, the last time this happened we spoke to Ofcom to see if there was any way customers could complain or reject the price rises. Unfortunately, Ofcom concluded that ‘[Orange's] price rise is not likely to be a breach of current legislation’.

How can that be? Surely if you’ve paid for a product (in this case, a phone contract at agreed fixed rates) the company shouldn’t be able to charge you more for it later on. Unfortunately this isn’t the case – mobile contract T&Cs often state that they may raise prices within the RPI, and there’s not much you can do about it.

What can T-Mobile customers do? Not much, unfortunately. When Orange’s price rises hit, some customers complained and got small payments as a gesture of goodwill, or were allowed to switch to a slightly cheaper contract.

However, this is not guaranteed, and T-Mobile is not obliged to offer people anything. T-Mobile customers will, understandably, be angry about this. The rule on below-inflation price rises is not well-known or publicised. I think this is one of the biggest problems here.

Don’t hide your T&Cs

OK, no one likes price rises, but in many situations we can see why we’re paying a bit more – if there’s a shortage of wheat we can understand the price of bread rising, for instance. But crucially, we know what price we will pay at the time that we make that purchase. The bread costs 99p – no one will turn up at our house a week later asking for an extra ten pence.

Usually we see mobile contracts in the same way. We ‘purchase’ at the point of making the contract. So I think that if it’s likely contract prices will rise, mobile phone companies should be pointing out that the ‘contract’ price isn’t absolutely set in stone.

This information shouldn’t just be buried in the terms and conditions, on a piece of paper that no one reads – it should be right up-front, in big, fat letters. Because, after all – the price is one of the most important factors in buying something.

Some people are diligent and read through the (sometimes epic) terms and conditions for any contract they make. But many don’t – in our poll on this topic, 94% of 1,036 people didn’t realise that mobile contracts weren’t at a fixed price.

Are you affected by T-Mobile’s price hike? Or are you worried that your mobile operator might be next to raise prices?

76 comments

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michelle

You wont get anywhere I complained to them through the highest level and ofcom and this is ofcoms response, T mobile still havent bothered to reply after 3 weeks, my price increase has come on my first bill at £13 for the contracts I have with the vat, which is a pretty big hike for a month (I have a few contracts) I will certainly be voting with my feet when each ones comes up for renewal, T mobile service has really peed me off this time, if they cant be bothered to reply to the complaints after Ive been a loyal customer for so many years they obviously dont think of customer service very highly. the service coverage has declined also this last month. On facebook they simply removed my comments without even justifying themselves, not a company I want to deal with anymore.. this is the oftcom letter.

Thank you for your email of 5 April 2012 complaining about T-Mobile’s decision to increase their line rental prices.

We have had a number of complaints similar to yours, and acknowledge that many consumers feel unhappy about these changes. We have therefore considered this matter in line with relevant consumer law (The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 (UTCCRs) and General Condition 9.6 (GC9.6)).

While we are aware of the widespread concern over T-Mobile’s decision, we have concluded that, based on the evidence available, the contract term which allows T-Mobile to increase charges by an amount equal to or less than the Retail Price Index (RPI) in any 12 month period is likely to be acceptable under the UTCCRs, provided the term has been clearly brought to your attention. We also considered this issue under GC9.6 and have concluded that, in general, this rise of 3.7% is unlikely to result in a material detriment to the majority of those customers affected.

However, we also understand that whether or not a consumer suffers material detriment will ultimately depend on their individual circumstances. As such, if you believe you have suffered, or will suffer, material detriment, you should contact T-Mobile and provide evidence to support your claim. T-Mobile also has a dedicated web page relating to information about the changes: http://www.t-mobile.co.uk/newprices

Hopefully by raising your concerns with the related evidence you will be able to resolve your complaint. However, if you are unhappy with T-Mobile’s response, you should follow their complaints procedure. This can be found on their website at: http://support.t-mobile.co.uk/resources/sites/TMOBILE/content/live/DOCUMENTS/0/DO210/en_GB/Complaints%20Code%20of%20Practice.pdf , or should be provided upon request by T-Mobile’s customer service.

While the final stage in T-Mobile’s complaints procedure refers to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme (‘CISAS’), please note that CISAS is not able to consider complaints about the fairness of price increases generally. However, where a customer has concerns that T-Mobile has not followed the procedure to introduce such a price increase, CISAS may be able to consider this on a case by case basis. CISAS is a free and independent service for residential and small business customers, and can consider a complaint once it has reached deadlock or has been ongoing for over 8 weeks. Additionally, T-Mobile must abide by their decision but you can reject this and seek legal advice if you remain unhappy.

Finally, if you remain unhappy with the deal you are on then you may wish to consider your options. Ofcom accredits two mobile price comparison sites: http://www.mobilife.com and: http://www.billmonitor.com which can help consumers find the best deal for them. You should, however, check your terms and condition for any charges that may apply if you decide to leave your contract early. We would also encourage you to check the terms and conditions when shopping around for other deals.

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Michael

T-Mobile should not impose price hikes on their customers which are hidden in small print. Its bad enough trying to work out which tariff is best. the tariffs that are available always short change the users and if you go over your allowance in the contract you pay heavily for it. I have 8 business phone contracts with T-Mobile and as they run out I will go elsewhere and I hope everyone else does the same.
T-Mobile are trying to justify their increase as necessary to cover investment costs in new technology (which will make them more money). At the time of the purchase of my contracts, these were things that I may or may not have wanted, so why should it be forced upon me. T-Mobile is making huge profits and have made a business decision to make even more by Terms and Conditions set out in their small print which most people cannot understand.
T-Mobile, in my opinion, are being deceptive and have underhandedly hiked up their prices because they believe they can get away with it and there is nothing that Ofcom, as proven, can do about it. It should be made Law that if you advertise a rate / tariff, if it is subject to Terms and Conditions such as price increases, this should be as clear as the rate / tariff they are selling. Other Industries such as Insurance, have been brought to task over this in the past, so why not Mobile Phone Companies.

By the way, whilst typing this e-mail, I realised that three of my phones are now out of contract, so how can increases due to the Terms and Conditions be justified? Do Terms and Conditions apply still when you are out of contract ? That’s something for T-Mobile, Ofcom and Which to think about.

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tonynelson

I blame OFCOM for allowing T-Mobile to sell contracts in this manner. I sent an email explaining my situation to them and got a reply stating that while they can understand my frustration at the situation i am in they are unable or unwilling to investigate the way T-Mobile sell there contracts . I can now understand how T-Mobile can get away with blatantly misleading and in my opinion miss selling there contracts when the regulatory body set up to police the industry does nothing . OFCOM should now be disbanded

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Tony B

Following my comment on the 11th April, I wrote to my MP, David Crausby. Since then my MP has undertaken to write directly to Downing Street. Yesterday I received a reply from the prime ministers office informing me that the prime minister has now directed the issue to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

I believe OFCOM have allowed a company to set a unfair precedence with regards to price rises to customers who have committed themselves to contracts. And as such I firmly believe other companies will now be looking to add the very same T&Cs which “permit” the price rise. Baring in mind I have contracts with my electric and gas suppliers I’m starting to doubt how good those contracts are!!!

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Sonya

Its only a month for my contract to complete, thank god that I got to know these guys are so unreliable. Won’t even think of extending my contract with TM.

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rory

If you have received this notice of increase then you can cancel your agreement without paying the cancellation charge by virtue of sub-clause 7.2.5.2 ” …is of material detriment … ” The agreement does not define define material detriment therefore so long as you simply state that the increase is of material detriment to you then this is indisputable.

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Zanda

I tried that ant there response was “we will not consider cancelling the contract without penalty for anyone” I even took it to their ADR how said it is a contractual issue and could not help.

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cadoonga

guys 3 has just done the same and we just have to live with it as you will pay more out of you pocket even when you complain. i still have 20 months remaining on 2 contracts. bugger.

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rory

Their unilateral increase contravenes the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. In particular, Schedule 2 (1)”(l) …allowing a seller of goods or supplier of services to increase their price without in both cases giving the consumer the corresponding right to cancel the contract if the final price is too high in relation to the price agreed when the contract was concluded;..”

Clause 2.12.1 is deliberately confusing and ambiguous and their call centre refuses to clarify what booklet it refers to, making it impossible to ascertain what terms and conditions affect the agreement.

For the above reasons in my opnion if you want to leave T-mobile just leave and ignore their threats.

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Tony B

Well I received a response from my MP David Crausby and also Ed Vaizey and the short story is they don’t give a damn. As far as they are concerned this is a private dispute between myself and t-mobile and they direct me to the ADR and CISAS. They believe t-mobile have acted inline with OFCOM regulations and as such no fault lies with OFCOM.

They also say and I quote “…It is not the case that the consumer has to prove they cannot afford the price rise. They need to have the price rise judged by the ADR to see whether or not it can be classed as of material detriment….”

So that’s all we have to do then….Just speak to the ADR and await their judgement. What an utter load of politician garbage speak. What world do these people live in? The fact that OFCOM have already stated “…if you believe you have suffered, or will suffer, material detriment, you should contact T-Mobile and provide evidence to support your claim….” is clearly now incorrect as I have it in writing from (living on another planet) MP Ed Vaizey. Either that or as per usual we have another MP who just doesn’t give enough of a damn to actually look beyond the spin.

So with this in mind I’m now looking forward to the time when my energy supplier catches on to the fact that with a little bit of refinement to their T&Cs they to will be able to increase their prices dispite of any contract I may have with them. And of course then I have my fixed rate mortgage, how long before they catch on or even my car finance company. But no need to worry because of course non of these price rises would be of a “substantial Increase” and as such would not cause me any material detriment and if you think I’m speaking out of turn or scaremongering and you feel this will never happen then your fools. Cometh the day when you’ll have to employ a solicotor to wade through the pages and pages of T&Cs…..

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Tony B

Seems 3 mobile have now also joined in with the meterial detrment price increase. People over their are saying teh excat same things. Thread is here http://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/three-mobile-price-rises-customer-reaction/comment-page-1/#comments

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rory

Whether you suffer “material detriment” is subjectively tested by the courts and if satisfied that on the balance of probabilities you have – then T-mobile have no case. Although it may only amount to £20 a year, if say that £20 was the deciding factor in choosing T-Mobile over the competition at the time then that is material detriment. If say that £20 causes a strictly budgeted account to become overdrawn then that is material detriment. It’s not just their price increase but the alteration of recent terms such as now making you pay £2 a day for tethering your PC to the phone under their new mobile network when hitherto it was free. They have also doubled the cost of 0800 calls although all this is academic if you look at their printing errors in clause 2.12.1 of the contract you signed – (if you didn’t sign one then they cannot prove you entered into any contract) it makes the whole contract too ambiguous to be enforceable.
According to T-Mobile I owe them over £600 in cancellation charges etc. so on many occasions I have asked T-Mobile to sue me however they won’t – because they know legally they do not have a leg to stand on. Just ignore their debt collecting agencies illegal threats and find an alternative supplier.

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audrey

why you do not write to them and inform, that unless they want to take you to court, they should stop harassing you or you will go to police and report them for harassement. i think this would stop the letters from them. otherwise if you jus tignore it they can put a bad mark on you credit score history. if they did not do it yet.

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rory

Audrey any mark they put on my credit history will be removed instantly as it is defamatory to allege anyone is a debtor or has bad credit unless or until proven otherwise by a court of law. The fact is T-mobile know they do not have a legal case against anyone as it is extremely difficult to disprove “material detriment”. Their contract is legally useless particalry since in April they began charging £2 a day to use your mobile as a wi-fi hub which was previosuly free to anyone who had ” internet” access with their mobile.

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Audrey

I had case with Tmobile, which was settled via cab office, because company was at fault but how I was surprised to find red mark on my account in credit history from them. Was no court decision nothing of my fault.but they did it. That’s why check you’re credit history.

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rory

If you have a red mark against your credit history with no court order you can insist they (usually equifax) add your notice of correction to the file disputing the debt and stating it was falsely claimed by T-mobile – corrorobated by the lack of any court order. If your rich or legally qualified you could sue T-mobile for libel – however you can still obtain compensation via the financial ombudsman. Essentially unless there is a court order there is no proven debt and legally no right for anyone to state your a debtor. I was awarded £250 compensation against Morgan Stanley who claimed through equifax i owed them £2800 for a disputed credit cardl account. With no court order they cannot make this statement,

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audrey

i have ggot the same situation with 3 mobile company. the same response i got from ofcom, too.
however during conversation i noticed that they stress contract terms and conditions, which allows the right to increase the rate, however, what about argument that this terms are not fair, and falls within unfair terms and conditions. my point is this is not fair because consumer has no right to choose or amend contract with telecumunication company offers to sign. we have to accept it as it is. even if their increase is justified by small procentage, but it can not be justified that terms and conditions works for company only. there is no similar choice for consumer to cancell contract whenever he feels like canceling, so how increase can be justified. i do feel that in this case ofcom does not do their work properly. there are many other ways to prevent this from happening. not only this i do believe that company should justify their price hike. is seems ridiculous when they state increase prices due to inflation, when their new contract prices are falling down. does not make any sence

as for example if you go to court, the judge will listen both sides, but here is listened only one.
and to be honest there is no any legal argument stated from ofset organisation.

whe question would be where consumer can go further?
this is not only one person’s issue, as they suggest. material detriment for individual cases. what about all other peopl who binded by unfair contract? what is possible to do?

is there any organization which can take further legal actions against this issue? now it stays the similar situation as with bank charges. that each consumer must fight individually, and there is no law to prevent big companies from mistreating you. why should person be a law abiding citizen, when this law is created for the sharks. on paper law seems works, but in real life it is worthless. even when you know the law, you still will hit your head into the wall of smart individuals who manipulates this law.

very dissapointing reality

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Anita Burksfield

I have had it with T=Mobile, my phones been playing up since i got it HTC Desire HD. I had to phone them several times the response was go back to the site you bought it from nothing to do with us i asked them to have a look at it but, No although i am under contract with them for another 12months they were not willing to help and put the price of the calls up. I did ask them if i could change my contract for another phone but no. i have to buy out.OK T-Mobile i now have another company with another contract and brand new phone i will buy myself out 2morrow when my new phone arrives.Do they not realise that customers are leaving in droveswell i am for one Fed up T-Mobile

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rory

To update my fiasco with T-mobile – they insisted i pay £650+ for cancellation charges etc and i refused. They put this alleged debt in the hands of capquest. Finally after 5 weeks of threatening, abusive and harrassing phone calls from capquest i learn from their “Ash Capel” the reason for their harrasement is because legally T-mobile have no chance of enforcing their joke contract through the courts so instead they embark on harrasment as an attempt to extort their legally unenforceable terms. Since i have complained to the OFT.

Some of you said you didn’t think you were told the price could vary when you signed up to your contract. We had suspicions this was true, so we decided to go undercover into phone shops to see what shop assistants told customers when they asked ‘is the price fixed?’

The results are pretty shocking. See the results and our undercover video here: http://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/fixed-means-fixed-mystery-shop-undercover-mobile-phone-contract-selling/

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P.Grant

I have more than one contracts with T-Mob, all have gone UP…And to make matters worse I felt like the elevated prices in my line rentals were more than just 3.7% that my network claimed… I personally felt betrayed. This felt like a slap in the faces. Why didn’t attach this hike in prices on newer customer instead of us there loyal subjects who stuck with the company through all the bulls%$t we had to put up with.
And another thing, why 3.7%? Where did that figure come from? Could it be the fact the new EE merger has 37% share of the UK mobile phone market?

Another price rise from T-Mobile, this time announced by parent company EE. It’s 3.3% and we think it’s equally as outrageous. Make sure to have your say on our latest post: http://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/ee-orange-tmobile-price-rise-fix-monthly-plan/

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Customer

T-mobile thank you for giving us the customers the hard lesson of hiking the price like you did. I personally will never ever be in contract again with any network provider and specially you T-mobile. Totally rip off.

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David White

I’ve got 18 months left in contract which will cost an extra £6.48 in total. Not that much but the amount isn’t the point. It’s the principal which stinks. I’m sure that their short term financial gains will soon pale into insignificance as they suffer a slump in contract renewals throughout the rest of 2013. £52m gained now but 100′s of millions lost in the longer term. Bad business decision which people won’t quickly forget. Even if it didn’t happen to you personally, everyone will know someone who had their ‘fixed price’ increased mid-contract by T-Mo$ile.

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Stellarbelz

In October, I thought I contracted for my first smart phone from T-Mobile. I asked at that time, over the phone, if the £15.50 a month was for the contract period of 2 years and was told “Yes it was”.

I have never seen terms and conditions, I have the original offer email which only gives me the usage amounts and the phone they would “give” me.

I have been with them six months and I have found that the phone could not be used for Skype having a much smaller processor than is required I specifically asked about Skype and was told “yes, it would work” .

What are the chances of my voiding my contract without too much of a penalty, of course, returning the phone as well.

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Matt Goddard

T Mobile have increased their prices above the RPI which is 3.2% for Feb. Their own T&Cs state that no cancellation charge is payable if the increase is ‘higher than any increase in the RPI for the 12 months before the month’ in which they send you the notice. Mine was dated April 2013 and the only figure available for the month before (Feb – which was released on 19th March) was 3.2%. The figure for March will not be released until the 16th April. I suspect they are using the Jan figure of 3.3% which was released on the 12th Feb, but they are in breach of their own T&Cs!

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