Contracts, of any kind, can be a minefield and this was especially so for mobile phones. So we launched our Fixed Means Fixed campaign to address this. Well we’ve had a long awaited win today for this campaign. So how could this help you?
Things were so different in 2013. Selfies were everywhere, Chelsea were a decent football team and mobile phone providers were hiking mobile phone bills mid-contract without telling us before we took out a contract. How things have changed, well, apart from selfies.
Back in 2013 we had a win for our Fixed Means Fixed campaign. With your help we saw a change to the rules on mobile phone contracts after thousands of you helped us put pressure on the regulator and industry.
Together we convinced Ofcom to issue new rules so providers couldn’t hike prices mid-contract whenever they felt like it. But it wasn’t all as rosy as we’d hoped for.
You might remember that to our great disappointment, O2 decided to go against the spirit of the new Ofcom rules by writing into customers’ contracts that they definitely would increase prices annually. Nearly 8,000 of you joined us asking O2 not to go ahead but they continued on that course, followed closely by EE.
We then complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an O2 advert which claimed customers could get a £14 a month fixed mobile contract, despite the price only applying for one month of a two-year contract. The small print however, stated that prices would rise by the rate of inflation so a customer would only get one month at £14 before their bill went up.
We thought this was outrageous, you shouldn’t have to scrutinise the small print to figure out whether the advertised price of a mobile contract is in fact the price you’ll pay.
Now, almost two years later the ASA has published their final decision.
The ASA has said that the O2 advert was likely to mislead because:
‘The monthly price of a contract was likely to be of significance to consumers when deciding on a mobile phone contract, the monthly increase within the term amounts to a significant term, which should be made clear to a consumer.’
And has concluded that:
‘The ad failed to make clear the RPI (Retail Price Index) price rise to airtime plans and was misleading.’
This important decision means that telecoms companies should be much clearer upfront about any intended price rises during the term of a contract and can’t hide mid-contract price hikes in the small print.
We are of course continuing to campaign for fairer mobile deals. But we’d like to know your thoughts on this ASA ruling. Is this welcomed news for you? Or do you think it’s just a small step towards fairer practice?