/ Technology

Fixed should mean fixed with mobile contract prices

Today’s the day Three puts its prices up for existing customers already tied in to ‘fixed’ contracts. And today’s the day we ask Ofcom to stamp out this practice. We need your support to ensure that Fixed Means Fixed.

Did you know your fixed mobile contract could go up in price at any time? When we recently asked more than 1,500 UK adults with a mobile contract, 70% said they didn’t know companies were able to do so.

That’s despite a spate of price hikes from Britain’s biggest mobile providers; Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and Three. It’s an issue I’m sure many of you are familiar with here on Which? Conversation – over 1,700 comments have been made by angry mobile customers hit by such price rises.

Pledge your support for Fixed Means Fixed

If you sign up to a 12 to 24 month contract at an advertised price of ‘£25 per month’, I’m sure you’d be surprised if you were told you had to pay more. You’d probably be outraged if you weren’t allowed to cancel without having to pay penalty. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what mobile companies have got away with.

Why? Most mobile companies’ T&Cs include a caveat that lets them put up prices by the RPI rate of inflation. And this can vary – last year Orange hiked prices by 4.34%, and this year Three put them up by 3.6%. You’ve been with us every step of the way and your comments haven’t fallen on deaf ears – we think it’s time to tell mobile companies that Fixed Means Fixed.

It’s simple; if a customer signs up to a fixed deal, where they can be tied in for up to two years, then all of the terms of that deal, including price, should be fixed for the contract’s duration.

If a mobile company feels it needs to put up prices, it should factor this into deals for new customers and not impose such hikes on existing customers who are already locked in. We have submitted a formal complaint to Ofcom packed full of your feedback and we need your support to help make it stand up and take notice:

Providers may protest that their price rises aren’t significant for individual customers, but we’ve worked out that with around 10.5 million Brits affected so far, consumers have spent almost £34.5m extra as a result. In a year, mobile companies could make a hugely significant £90m. That’s £90m that we, the customers, didn’t think we’d agreed to when we signed our contracts.

Shifting the balance of power back in your favour

If mobile providers can’t or won’t commit to Fixed Means Fixed not only should they be upfront about this in their advertising, they should give customers the ability to cancel without penalty if they change the deal. This means you could refuse a contract with variable terms, or accept a contract with fixed terms and cancel if those terms change.

If you agree with our campaign, show your support using the pledge above. The balance of power needs to be put back in your favour – Ofcom must intervene now and stamp out this practice so that you can be confident that fixed really does mean fixed.

Robert says:
24 July 2013

Just been stitched up by Virgin with a 2.9% increase with 9 months left on a 2-year contract. I am going to complain to them, but I am confident that it will do no good. It will make me feel better though.

I have been considering getting a phone contract for some time because of the cost of calling mobile phones from my landline during the day. The procrastination was ended when I was contacted by Vodafone, making me an offer as a ‘loyal customer’, despite the fact that I top up my PAYG phone about once a year.

To cut a long story short, I have told the three people how much I dislike Vodafone and other companies for increasing contract prices during a contract, mentioned the Which? Fixed Means Fixed campaign, and selected a monthly rolling contract so that I can leave at any time. I chose Vodafone so that I could use the remaining credit on my PAYG account, and may move to another service provider.

jim stewart says:
11 September 2013

So now Which? are asking us to sign a petition saying no to mobile contract hikes to ‘make Ofcom listen’!? So Which?, what has happened to the Fixed Means Fixed campaign which has been running since July 2012 with 35,000 odd pledges of support?

Hi Jim, thanks for the comment. Your support and signatures has been essential in our campaign to not only form our original complaint to Ofcom, but for them to launch their consultation, and for our response to that consultation.

Ofcom is now mulling over what its final decision is going to be – we’re just weeks away from it making its announcement. What we need your help with is to twist its arm at the final stage to do the right thing. We think Ofcom might be wavering after being heavily lobbied by the mobile industry – we want to make sure the tables are turned, and the regulator is listening to you, not the mobile companies. This is why we’re asking for your support again at the final hour. Thanks.

Seriously? If OFCOM are going to allow themselves to ignore the contractual terms drawn up by the mobile companies that favour the consumers, does anyone actually believe we’re going to have ANY IMPACT WHATSOEVER on their final decision?

Both Three and o2 have announced price increases that should have triggered exit clauses under their contracts (Three allowed customers to leave for any price increase due to poor wording, o2 decided to increase process above RPI).

If OFCOM have even considered ignoring such action, the consumer had already lost.

Anyone still tied up with 1 of the pre dispute contracts? 2 years later I gave up waiting for OFCOM & ‘upgraded’ my contract when it was up for renewal (saving myself £10 a month, £25 to £15 a month)………… each month of inactivity would of cost me £10 & I wasn’t going to hang on to find out how long it was going to take extra. We have repeatedly been promised action, & soon but we are still waiting! The mistake was not making it a super complaint in the 1st place!
The best part of this rant is my experience of sorting out my new deal. I was told by 2 advisers that it was for £15 a month so I was not happy when I received communications stating £25 a month! I phoned up advisers to tell them to shove it & was told it has a fixed £10 discount so it is £15 but that is just the way it comes out on the system. It this point I had an exasperating time trying to explain to these people that £15 a month is very different from £25-£10 a month! I was trying to cancel the upgrade so was put through to the retentions team.
I was only talked out of cancelling the upgrade by receiving an assurance that if & when we get the next rpi price increase my increase would be on the £15 figure & not the £25 one! Of course, I don’t believe it for 1 minute but I did take the gents name, date & time of my call & I am lead to believe the call is recorded but no doubt when it comes to it there will be no record of the conversation or employee!

It’s a total farce and has been from beginning to end.

14 months to make a decision and OFCOM can still easily waver in the face of “lobbying” from mobile phone networks with megabucks to aid their “persuasive techniques”???

I finally ditched Three and am now a free man at last, and I will never take up a contract again with ANY of the networks as promised. Bought a cheap PAYG deal SIM and am very happy having far more control over my spending than I ever had before, plus the freedom to “switch or ditch” at a moments notice should I desire to.

Forget OFCOM! Tell these networks to shove their RPI increases and hit them where it hurts (in their pockets) by rejecting contracts from now on!

The more people who do, the more notice they will take.

OFCOM shows it’s true colours… so much for the the watchdog?