/ Money, Technology

Phoney excuses for Vodafone’s mobile price rise

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Who’s to blame for all these mobile phone price rises? If you’re to believe what some of you have heard from Vodafone reps, it’s Ofcom and the government’s fault. So what does Vodafone have to say for itself?

Quick recap – four mobile companies have increased their prices for customers locked into ‘fixed’ contracts. After more than 2,000 comments from angry customers here on Which? Conversation, it’s certainly an issue that’s stuck in my mind.

Vodafone’s the latest provider to pull a price rise out of the hat, but the excuses Vodafone’s customer service reps have apparently given when you’ve called to complain are a tad alarming.

Vodafone’s reasons for line rental price rise

When Which? Convo commenter ‘Disgruntled’ asked why the price of his contract was going up, he says he was told ‘that the government had instructed all the phone companies to increase the bills’.

Keith Brighton heard a similar story, but this time the blame was laid squarely on the regulator:

‘When I phoned Vodafone, I was told Ofcom told them to increase prices. This is clearly not true.’

The word ‘Ofcom’ was ringing in Paul’s ears after his call to another Vodafone rep:

‘I just phoned Vodafone about the price rises, and was told that Ofcom had ordered them to raise their prices. I thought there was a loss in translation, so I clarified it five times with the operator. Ofcom told them to raise their prices, and had told all mobile operators to do the same. I was staggered.’

I was staggered too after so many of your comments described Vodafone customer service reps blaming its price rise on Ofcom or the government.

We decided to get on the phones too; lo and behold we heard similar excuses. Vodafone customers here at Which? HQ were generally faced with vagueness about why the prices were going up, including excuses that it’s because all the other mobile providers are doing it, to the government and Ofcom making them do it. Anything but Vodafone’s fault it seems.

In truth, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard tall tales like this. When we went undercover into mobile phone shops, one assistant blamed the price rises on Ofcom too.

It was Vodafone’s decision to increase prices

When we took your comments to Vodafone, it told us:

‘Vodafone made the decision to change its line rental prices. This is not driven by Ofcom or the government. We’re very concerned to hear that some customers are being given this information and we are investigating.

‘The training given to staff clearly outlines that the 1 November line rental increase reflected rising costs within our own business and was below the rate of inflation. We always want to ensure that the information given to customers is accurate and we’ve already taken further steps to ensure that this is the case.’

So, hopefully that’s that then. Well, apart from the price rise itself. Make sure you complain to Vodafone – drive a hard bargain as you may be able to get compensation. And if you’re still not happy, make it clear that you’ll ‘vote with your feet’ and consider switching providers once your ‘fixed term’ ends. More power to you.

Oh, I almost forgot; it happens to be the one year anniversary of Vodafone’s last price rise on ‘fixed’ contracts, so if you’d like to wish them a happy anniversary on Facebook, please do by sharing our lovely card. Hopefully they’ll get the message.


In reality the reason for the price rise is the simple fact that they can do it and get away with it. So ultimately it is Ofcoms fault for allowing them to raise prices as long as it less than the RPI during what is supposed to be a Fixed contract. I’m surprised that the ASA hasn’t jumped up and down on either/both for what is clearly a mis-use of the word Fixed ( OK , so I’m not that surprised ).


We really do need Ofcom to intervene.

Leanne says:
15 October 2012

Ok, so I enjoy price increases every bit as much as the next person (i.e. not at all), but please people let’s put this in perspective. Everything has been going up in price for some time now. Your weekly shop is now massively more expensive, it costs a lot more to fill up your car, and your fuel bills are consistently on the rise. All of these things have been going up at considerably more than the rate of increase we’re complaining about here. Why are we ok to pay so much more for everything else in our lives on the back of comments about rising costs, but when a mobile provider increases their pricing by a much smaller percentage, also on the basis of rising costs, it’s suddenly a scandalous rip off? I’m more annoyed that supermarkets have changed their 2 for £4 offers to 2 for £5 (a 25% price hike) than I am about paying 60p a month more on my phone bill. Ok, so I’m not in contract for my weekly shop, but their increases are going to cost me a great deal more than the £7.20 a year my mobile phone price increase will…


The point is that the price rises are taking place after a customer has agreed to pay a certain amount per month. I don’t think you would be very happy if you did your shopping and got home to find that you had been charged more than the marked price.

The answer is for phone companies to stop offering contracts that include a ‘free’ phone. Then customers could end the contract at the end of the month if they did not like the rise in price. More importantly, we could start to deal with the growing ‘need’ to have the latest, greatest shiny toy.


Or maybe the ASA shouldn’t let companies use words whose meaning is altered in the small print.

Companies are just using headline grabbing words and changing their meaning in the small print, that should be stopped.

e.g. Fixed not meaning the same as given in any dictionary or unlimited and I’m sure there are other examples.


Hi Leanne, we do work on lots of the issues you talk about – many people’s bills are becoming unworkable, especially with energy price hikes: https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/britishgas-npower-price-rise-energy-bills/

The problem with the mobile provider’s price rises is that they’re putting up prices for people who are made to believe they’re on a fixed price. Not only that, but they’re locked in and can’t leave without paying a hefty fees. This doesn’t even exist with energy providers – when they put up their prices, cancellation fees are wavered as imposed by the regulator Ofgem: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/fixed-mobile-contracts-energy-price-rises/


there is no chance ofcom or any other of…. will take this up – they dont do that.

another scam vodafone and others push at people going abroad – they will sell you a quadband phone .

in fact a uk dual band phone works in many places in the world ie europe, south africa, australia, NZ etc.

i have researched this – these places are on the same wavebands as we are in the uk — ie 900 and 1800.

its not rocket science.

my brother has been to s.africa and new zealand with his uk dual band phone.

these shops are getting people to buy new phones and probably new package deals by deception –fraud.

how about which? warning consumers about this?

shlterry says:
21 November 2012

I got fobbed off by their customer service with “increase in VAT” and “inflation going around”. What a load of garbage. The increase in VAT to me more than covers any increase in VAT on costs to them. And inflation isn’t new. If you fix a contract, you allow for inflation as part of the deal. This is just rank profiteering. It really doesn’t matter that it’s only £1 a month to me, it’s the principle of the thing. I refuse to be their slowly-boiled frog and if enough of us complain to ofcom, hopefully they’ll do something.