In under two weeks, more than 17,500 people have signed our petition to Unlock Better Mobile Deals. We don’t think handsets should be locked to a network after you’ve left – here’s Pat and Rob to explain why.
You shouldn’t be locked into contracts that aren’t right for you, and one problem is that when your contract comes to an end you’re left with a phone that’s locked to your network. We think handsets should be unlocked automatically at the end of your contract, for free. If you’re not convinced that this needs to happen, I’d like to share two stories with you.
‘I basically feel like I have been used’
The first story comes from our supporter Pat, who first commented in 2013:
‘I left T-Mobile two months ago. I was not told at the time that the phone needs unlocking or what I should do to unlock it. They are now refusing to unlock it as obviously I am not an active customer. I cannot use it, I cannot sell it unless they’re a T-Mobile customer, so I am losing money.
‘I think they should have automatically unlocked it when I left or at least tell me it needs doing so I could have requested it then and there. I was with them for four years, always paid on time and never cause them any issues. I basically feel like I have been used.’
The majority of mobile users agree, with eight in 10 telling us that handsets should be unlocked automatically when contracts end.
‘Effectively a charge to prevent me from switching’
Rob had a similar experience with his pay-as-you-go (PAYG) EE phone:
‘EE/Orange have just asked me to pay £20.54 to unlock a PAYG phone. I bought it in December for my wife as a present. At the time I was told we had to have the phone for three months before they would unlock it.
‘This is effectively a charge to prevent me from switching supplier. If, for example, BT were to do this, should I want to switch to another landline supplier, it would not be allowed.
‘EE Customer Services originally told me that they would send me an unlock code via email within 20 working days. I topped up my account with them over the phone at the time as there wasn’t enough money in my account to pay for it to be unlocked. After taking the extra money I said that the account would still be a few pence short. They assured me that this didn’t matter.
‘A month later, I called them back. They said it was because I had less than the £20.42 in the account. They told me they would credit the account as it was only a few pence short and I would receive an unlock code within 10 days. I didn’t.
‘Two weeks later I called again. The person from Customer Services apologised and passed me on to a manager. He said, once again, that they hadn’t sent an unlock code as there wasn’t enough in my account. I offered to pay the extra few pence there and then. He declined saying he would credit my account and I would receive an unlocking code within 20 working days. I mentioned that this is what had happened on 11 June. He apologised and reiterated the 20 working days.’
Rob finally got his EE phone unlocked three months and three days after originally asking the company to do so. And on that point, we think all PAYG phones should be sold unlocked from the get go.
Do you think phones should be unlocked automatically, for free? Sign our petition, and if you’ve had a similar experience to either Pat or Rob, let rip below.