Having your mobile stolen is a pretty miserable experience whatever the circumstances. But the crime can be compounded further if the thief uses your phone and runs up a massive bill – which you’re then liable for.
To counter this, the government has announced an agreement with four mobile companies (EE, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone) to cap bills on phones that have been reported lost or stolen. This would work in a similar way to credit and debit cards, where there’s a £50 liability cap.
It’s a welcome move that’s part of a package announced by the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, who’s been working with telecoms providers to get them to do more to benefit consumers.
There’s no doubt that this cap should protect people from unexpected high bills due to no fault of their own, but what else are the mobile phone companies doing, and should they be doing more?
Fixed Means Fixed
Not unsurprisingly, mobile phone companies have also agreed to stop unexpected mid-contract price rises. They’d have to do this in January 2014 anyway, as following the success of our Fixed Means Fixed campaign, Ofcom ruled that customers can exit their mobile contract without penalty if the provider hikes contract prices.
There is also support for the government’s goal to get rid of roaming charges within the EU by 2016, which, if done correctly, will see people being charged less for using their phones abroad.
These are positive steps, if not ground breaking ones. And you might have noticed that O2, one of the biggest mobile providers, has yet to commit to all of us. We strongly urge all phone providers to sign up – it’s about time mobile users got a fair deal.
A step in the right direction
In addition to the liability cap for lost or stolen phones, we also want you to be able to set your own monthly caps, so that you can control how much you spend to avoid bill shock.
And we want mobile providers and the Government to go even further. They should put an end to confusing mobile phone charges that leave you paying more than you should. We want to see easier switching and simpler mobile phone tariffs, all of which you can read about in this Conversation from Which?’s Richard Lloyd.
Have you ever been hit by a big bill due to a thief running up calls on your lost or stolen phone? What changes would you like to see in the mobile phone industry?