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Customers soon may be able to leave mobile contracts if prices increase

Ofcom calls for change
Thu Jan 03 2013, 10:55
An Ofcom logo

UK CONSUMERS soon may be able to leave their mobile phone contracts early if their networks increase prices, thanks to possible changes from Ofcom.

Just before Christmas, UK operator O2 announced plans to increase the prices of its mobile phone contracts by 3.2 percent from 28 February, following in the footsteps of Three, which did a similar thing back in May last year. What's more, following the announcement O2 said that customers would not be able to leave its network because of this increase in costs, saying that its terms and conditions allow it to increase its prices every 12 months.

That could all be about to change, however.

UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom finally woke up and launched a consultation today to review whether customers should in fact be allowed to exit their contracts if their prices go up, after having received over 1,600 complaints about the issue between September 2011 and May 2012.

Ofcom explains, "This proposed change would address consumer concerns that it is unfair that providers are currently able to raise prices, while they themselves have little choice but to accept the increase or pay a penalty to exit the contract. Under the current rules, the exception is where a provider agrees that the price increase would be likely to cause 'material detriment'."

"Ofcom would also expect providers to be transparent about the potential for price increases so consumers can make an informed choice when entering the contract," it added.

Still, it looks like O2 will get away with its price hike for now, as Ofcoms' belated consultation won't finish until March this year, with a decision expected to follow, eventually, in June. µ


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