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Ofcom rules customers hit by mid-contract price hikes can leave for free

Applies to mobile, broadband and landline contracts
Thu Jan 23 2014, 12:05

UK TELECOMS WATCHDOG Ofcom has announced that from today, 23 January, users can cancel their landline, broadband or mobile contract if the service provider increases their monthly fee.

Under Ofcom's updated guidelands, telecoms companies must give at least one month's notice if they change the agreed monthly subscription price, and must allow customers to leave without penalty if they decide that they don't want to pay the new price.

There is a smidgen of bad news though, as existing contracts are not covered by Ofcom's new guidelines, so if the price of your current tariff rises, you'll have to agree to the unexpected price hike or cough up the remaining charges to leave it. Contracts where it is stated that the price will increase mid-contract, such as those with introductory offers, are also not included in the guidelines.

Ofcom consumer group director Claudio Pollack said, "We have reached an important milestone in our work to ensure consumers and small businesses have better protection against unexpected price increases.

"Additionally, our new guide highlights important factors customers might want to consider before entering into a new contract to help them understand exactly what they are signing up to."

Virgin Media doesn't seem bothered by Ofcom's ruling, saying that it has always allowed its customers to leave mid-contract. A Virgin Media spokesperson told The INQUIRER, "We've always given Virgin Media [cable] homes the right to exit their contract if they feel it's the right choice following a change to their monthly bill and we welcome Ofcom's decision to ensure other providers follow our lead."

Three seemed pleased with the move, too. A spokesperson told The INQUIRER, "Ofcom's move is good news, both for consumers and competition as prices will be more transparent as a result."

We have yet to hear from any other UK service providers regarding Ofcom's updated guidelines, but we'll update this article when we hear more. µ


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