Victory! Ofcom’s new rules to stop mobile price hikes

by , Conversation Editor Technology 23 October 2013
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We won! Together we convinced Ofcom to take action on mobile phone price rises. The regulator today announced the results of its consultation, which was as a result of our campaign.

People celebrating with mobile phone contracts

Ofcom opted for our preferred action – to let you exit your contract without penalty if your mobile provider wants to hike prices. These new rules will apply to contracts signed after 23 January 2014. Ofcom’s Claudio Pollack said:

‘Ofcom is today making clear that consumers entering into fixed-term telecoms contracts must get a fairer deal. We’re making it clear that any increase to the monthly subscription price should trigger a consumer’s right to leave their contract – without penalty.’

Working together to convince Ofcom

After heavy lobbying from the mobile companies, there was a very real threat that nothing would be done at all. However, Ofcom has stood firm and done the right thing.

We’ve been working hard to convince the regulator to make the right choice. This year our research confirmed that most of us don’t understand ‘RPI’ price rises, and our undercover mystery shopping demonstrated that mobile phone shops aren’t being all that upfront. And you’ve been busy too, signing our petition and spreading the word.

It takes time to turn an entire industry around, but with the support of more than 58,000 of you, we convinced Ofcom to take action on unfair mobile phone contracts.

The birth of a campaign

Back in 2012, thousands told us that you were confused and annoyed about price hikes from your mobile company. We agreed – the mobile industry wasn’t playing fair and so we launched our Fixed Means Fixed campaign.

We’ve witnessed mid-contract price rises from all the big mobile companies (Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, Three, O2). This resulted in their customers having to collectively pay £123m more than they’d budgeted for.

The big kicker is that you can’t show your dissatisfaction by voting with your feet. Many were stuck with months left to pay, with your provider expecting you to pay it all up if you wanted to leave. All the while they pointed to little-known terms in the small print. That’s about to change.

Your support secures victory

Thanks to you, millions of mobile phone, broadband and landline customers will benefit from new rights. If mobile providers want to hike prices on fixed contracts, you’ll be able to show them what you think by cancelling without having to pay a penny.

The new rules should also be an incentive to stop providers from increasing prices in the first place – so that they can keep their loyal customers.

This is your victory, so make sure to share it with your friends and family. We’ll be keeping a watchful eye to make sure these new rules are implemented swiftly. Congratulations!

86 comments

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Andy e

I have complained about the above 2.5% rise and after 2 hours trying to make a complaint to the philipines (useless) and eventually getting a british call centre on 150 option 5 then 3 and raising a complaint? I feel happy!! because it will cost me 48p more per month for remainder of contract which equals £6 roughly and then i will cancel after being 6 years with them.
It must have cost them a lot more for the phone conversations then correspondance and Final letter of deadlock i am waiting for!! then i intend to exaust the complaints procedure and cost them a whole load of grief (i am very upset with them),i also am changing to other provider for internet/t.v/phone in jan in protest.
I Recieved phone call today from Virgin complaints and they basically told me to get lost and they dont care if i leave and put the phone down on me….all i said was ” Is it ok to treat customers unfairly and differently who signed a contract before 23rd jan 14?” Ala from virgin was very rude and said ” i cant hear you….” then he said we will be charging you from 22nd july” then he slams phone down……great.
Would’nt it be great if all of virgin mobiles customers raised complaints and exausted the procedure? They would have to drop the rises or employ more people (Good for economy?).
Why did ofcom not include current contracts? and leave the door open for abuse still? I never signed a contract with virgin but they said the handset is my acceptance of the t & c’s??
Also Virgin are determined to clasify all complaints as Feedback or Comments?? is this so they dont get fined by regulator for too many complaints?? I insisted it was a complaint!!

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Vinnie P

I think OfCom need to extend this to TV packages too. I took SKY TV 12 month contract at half price (for entire length). As per their terms and conditions they can increase prices upto 10% during contract term and there is no option to cancel without penalty. In my case they increased by 8% of original price; which in effect means 16% increase to me. I am just 3 months into contract; which means they manage crawl back discount they offered me at first place. Over length of contract I will pay £40 more than my contract.

Which? must extend campaign to other services under OfCom’s banner. In fact parliament should pass law banning one sided contracts offered to customers. Service providers can always factor upcoming price increased due to inflation etc in their pricing model upfront.

I think its too early to call this as success because service providers are greedy…and government regulators are teeth-less.

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Steve

I completely agree that this should be extended to TV packages – in fact whenever a service has a price advertised for a contract of a fixed length then the price should be unchangeable.

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