A lot has happened since we launched our Fixed Means Fixed campaign. Our formal complaint led to Ofcom launching a consultation on price rises during fixed contracts – and your views were integral to our response.
Ofcom’s consultation into price rises in the middle of fixed contracts closed last week. We’ve handed in our response and we await the outcome with baited breath.
What’s important in this is the role you’ve all played. The thousands of comments made here on Which? Conversation formed a key part of our response to Ofcom’s consultation. Fixed Means Fixed is a campaign driven by consumers, so here’s to you for helping us tell Ofcom to do the right thing.
There’s only one option that makes sense
So, how did we respond? Well, four options were presented in Ofcom’s consultation. Three of them, ranging from doing nothing to greater transparency of price rise terms, didn’t quite fit the bill. For instance, although we want companies to be clear about price rises, that wouldn’t change the fact that customers don’t have a chance to avoid them. Hikes have been imposed by all the major mobile providers (O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and Three Mobile) after all.
However, Ofcom’s fourth option – allowing customers to exit contracts without penalty if providers hike prices – hits the mark. We’ve always thought that the price should stay fixed from the day it’s agreed until the end of that agreement. And if providers don’t want to keep their end of the bargain and prices do change, you should be able to legally leave without having to pay an exit penalty.
And you agreed with us. When we put all the options to you in a survey, you were overwhelmingly in favour of option four – 91% of more than 5,000 voters went for it.
Redressing the balance of power
We think option four would give you greater power and freedom to vote with your feet. You could trust the price you signed up to, and if prices do increase you can reject it and switch providers.
Moreover, it could act as an incentive for providers to stick to the advertised price throughout the contract in order to avoid losing their loyal customers to their competitors. All in all, we think that option four would change the balance of power and should lead to an environment where you get what you signed up for.
So, thank you for all your help with our Fixed Means Fixed campaign and for being a key part of our response to Ofcom. We’ll be keeping up the pressure on your behalf while the regulator considers what it does next. But in the meantime we still want to hear from you – do you think Ofcom should stick to its guns and implement option four?