After over 550 comments, mainly from disappointed customers, our Conversation on Three Mobile’s price rise has been popular for all the wrong reasons. So what have you been saying about it?
If you haven’t been following, Three customers who signed up before 8 March 2012 will have to stomach a 3.6% price rise (in line with RPI inflation in March) from 16 July without the right to cancel. On a £25 monthly plan that’s around £11 more per year.
Three’s been contacting its customers by text, email or letter, and everyone should be aware of it by now. But people aren’t happy – and why should they be? They thought the price they signed up to was fixed, and although the increase might not be significant; it’s the principle of the thing.
Orange, T-Mobile… and now Three
It’s a problem that seems endemic among mobile companies, with Orange and T-Mobile doing the same. The simple fact is that their customers interpret a fixed contract as not only being for a fixed period, but as being at a fixed price for the length of the contract. Neil comments:
‘What’s annoying is I thought I agreed to a 24 month contract for a given price in exchange for given services. When (or if) I upgrade then I will decide to pay a different price or not. To have this change forced on me/us without any get out clause is very frustrating. We purchase goods/services for agreed period of times at agreed prices.’
Commenter Paul adds:
‘In an industry that relies so heavily on customer loyalty this smacks of betrayal and a bad business decision that will haunt Three for some time.’
Chris feels the same way and won’t be staying with Three when his contract is up:
‘As a previously loyal customer to Orange I am disgusted that Three have chosen to go down this route. I accept that on a two year contract I would expect to be paying slightly more than the best price plan twelve months later, but that is my choice, not theirs… not happy. Will not be renewing my contract!’
And that’s what most commenters are saying – they will vote with their feet and move on from Three when their contract is up. To paraphrase commenter C.A.: ‘Three rely on thee’.
Three: ‘A decision we have not taken lightly’
But what if the mobile provider you move on to puts its prices up in exactly the same way? At Which? we don’t think it’s fair to increase prices during a fixed contract without offering the option to cancel (without penalty).
We took this view to Three, but sadly it’s not budging:
‘Despite costs increasing in a number of areas within our business, we have not passed on an RPI level rise to our contract handset customers in the nine years we have been in operation. Increasing our prices for existing customers is a decision we have not taken lightly. We know that increases are never welcome and we have tried to do this in the fairest way possible for all of our customers. We are confident our plans continue to offer the best possible value for money.’
Well, just like you, we’re not happy. Right now we’re exploring all the possible options to see what we can do. Not only do we want contracts to be clearer, we want the practice of companies putting prices up during fixed contracts to be stopped. But, as you can imagine, that’s going to take some time. Whatever the outcome, we want to make sure you’re the guys who win.