Should you have to pay for a bill that’s been racked up by criminals? The Government has reached a voluntary agreement with five mobile operators to tackle shock phone bills – we don’t think it goes far enough.
EE, O2, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone are to set a cap of £100 on your phone bill if you report your mobile lost or stolen within 24 hours.
Three has already introduced the cap, with EE planning to introduce the same within the coming weeks. O2, Virgin Media and Vodafone will follow with the new measures later this year.
Shock mobile phone bills
We’ve heard from people who’ve been served with bills costing thousands of pounds due to mobiles (and their SIM cards) ending up in the hands of criminals. Which? supporter Frances shares her experience:
‘[My daughter’s mobile provider] let a bill of £1,800 run up on my daughter’s stolen phone before they let us know. They are now harassing us for payment which we cannot afford.’
Although the long overdue cap will limit the impact of shock bills like the one shared by Frances, the measures still fall short of our expectations.
Why pay for fraud?
You might remember that we surveyed mobile phone users to find out whether they thought a £100 cap would be fair. A third of them said they’d find it difficult to cope with an unexpected expense of £100, and six in 10 didn’t think they should have to pay any of the costs arising from fraudulent use.
You don’t have to pay for the fraudulent charges made on stolen credit cards, so why should you have to with your mobile?
There’s another problem with the new agreement. You’re only going to be protected by the £100 cap if you report your phone lost or stolen within 24 hours. You usually have to do this over the phone…
Losing trust in mobile operators
This voluntary agreement is just another example of why people are fast losing trust in mobile operators. Add to this that three quarters of people are on the wrong mobile contract, and it’s a good thing Ofcom’s reviewing the mobile phone market.
Not only should it be easier to report a phone theft, we don’t think you should have to pay anything for fraudulent activity on your phone if you report it lost or stolen within 48 hours. We also think there should be an industry-wide plan to protect people from shock bills.
Has your mobile phone ever been lost or stolen? What type of response did you get from your mobile provider?