/ Technology

Talkmobile joins the price rise gang

Talkmobile logo

This one almost slipped under the radar – another mobile provider is hiking prices for customers locked into fixed contracts. Talkmobile is increasing prices by around 3% for its pay-monthly customers.

You can now count the number of mobile providers who haven’t hiked fixed contract prices on one hand. Talkmobile, a small provider owned by Carphone Warehouse, is the latest to follow the trend first started by Vodafone in 2011.

We’ve had two other price rises in 2013 alone – Orange customers’ bills went up on 10 April, and T-Mobile customers have recently been sent letters alerting them to their new price on 9 May.

Talkmobile increases mobile line rental prices

Described as a ‘small change to the price of your pay monthly mobile tariff’, Talkmobile’s price rise will hit customers from 1 June 2013 and varies between 10p to 55p extra a month, depending on your particular tariff. It will only hit your line rental, with no changes to calls, texts or data. Here’s how Talkmobile announced the hike:

‘At Talkmobile, we strive to always bring you value and to keep your monthly bills as low as possible. This is why, to date, we’ve avoided putting our tariff prices up. Even when our competitors raised theirs, we have not. But now, due to inflation, we’ve had to change the price of your pay monthly tariff slightly.’

As with the other providers’ price rises, it’s all in the small print. But as we’ve said many times before – that doesn’t make it right. Which? Convo commenter Derek expresses his disappointment:

‘After being messed around by Three, I switched to Talkmobile. Big mistake. I have only been with them six months and I have just been advised that my two year contract will increase by 3%. I don’t imagine this will be a one off. Very disappointed Ofcom allows this to happen.’

The mobile industry needs to change

Talking of Ofcom – its consultation into price rises during fixed contracts closed last month and we’re currently awaiting its decision. Ofcom’s preferred option is to let customers move on without penalty. However, with many major mobile providers telling the regulator why it should leave the industry untouched, we want to send this message to Ofcom – stick to your guns.

Fixed should mean fixed – if a provider puts prices up, then we think it has broken its promise and you should be free to leave without paying a penalty.

Have you got a mobile phone contract with Talkmobile – have you had a text or letter saying your prices are going up?

Comments
Guest
David says:
16 April 2013

Like you, I am very surprised and disappointed that Talkmobile has taken this step – it amounts in my view to mis-selling, as although the price increases are small, the contracts are sold as fixed for 24 months etc and for TM to use the very small print on the back is very bad practice. I would not use them again if this stance is maintained.

Guest
Anon says:
17 April 2013

What this article conveniently doesn’t note is that it’s in line with the RPI rate of inflation and in some cases is as low as an extra 10p per month. If you honestly can’t afford this kind of increase you’re in no position to own a mobile contract in the first place.
It’s the consumers responsibility to read the full terms and conditions for anything they’re going to sign, and if they choose not to then they can only blame themselves.
The fact that contract prices go up is now common practise, if you’re dead against it your alternative is pay as you go, companies don’t owe you anything so stop feeling so entitled.

Guest

Anon – To my mind the issue is about fair treatment of customers. If the phone companies called their contracts Variable Price Contract and made it clear to every new customer that the monthly payment was likely to rise during the contract, that would be fine.

I cannot think of other examples of fixed period contracts where customers are faced by these price rises.

I fully support what Which? is trying to achieve in getting fair treatment of customers, even though I have never had a mobile phone contract.

Guest
Anon says:
18 April 2013

Don’t get me wrong I’m by no means advocating the practise, having my own contract increase in the last few months by another provider.

My point is it clearly states in the T’s and C’s the company has a right to do this, all I’m trying to state is that if a customer reads them and signs anyway they have no right to complain, the exact same scenario if they choose not to read what they’re signing up to in the first place.

Hopefully one day mobile phone companies will be prevented from doing this, but until then customers aren’t exactly victims. Well, maybe of their own ignorance.

Guest

Hi Anon, you’re right that with all these price rises, they are in line with RPI. However, to have a term in the small print that most people aren’t made aware of isn’t good enough. In our undercover investigation, when prompted with a question about whether the contract was for a fixed price, 82% of shop assistants told us that it was: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/technology/fixed-means-fixed/mystery-shopping-fixed-contracts/

People’s understanding is that a fixed term contract will be fixed in price – especially when shop assistants confirm this when they ask.

Guest

Patrick – Those of us who have been following this sorry tale know that the T&Cs allow for a price increase within the RPI change. I wonder what the legal position would be if the customer has been told that the price is fixed by a shop assistant, assuming the discussion was witnessed.

Guest
Mark says:
18 April 2013

In reply to wavechange I specifically asked the shop assistant when signing up for what is my first monthly contracts that the price will remain constant for the term of the contract. When I phoned them the other day to query the increase they were as surprised as me. They claim the first they knew was when they received the same text I did on their phones!!

This is a classic case of mis-selling whether deliberate or simply very poor training. Either way I seem to have no choice but to accept it.

Guest
Tom says:
13 May 2013

I have tried reading talk mobile’s T&Cs, they were printed on an a5 sheet.
Talk about “small print”….. It was smaller than the small print.
I could not read them !