UPSTART MOBILE network Three has been hauled across the coals by Citizens Advice for "ripping off" customers.
The Hutchison-owned operation is the only one of the four big names not to sign up to an agreement that would see customers' bills reduced after they have paid off the cost of the handset. O2, Vodafone and EE are all on board, leading charity group Citizens Advice (no longer Bureau) to accuse it of overcharging customers to the tune of between £1.5m and £2.7m per month.
The proposals put forward by Ofcom over the summer will see customers moving to the equivalent SIM-only tariff at the end of their contract, however, Three has declined to join the call-to-arms, insisting it would continue to charge customers until they proactively upgrade or switch to a SIM-only deal.
Ofcom has already expressed its displeasure, saying that Three would "continue to overpay and will not receive similar protections if they stay on their current deal". Citizens Advice refers to this as a ‘loyalty penalty' costing each customer between £10 and £13 per month.
Gillian Guy, head honcho at Citizens Advice griped: "It's unacceptable that Three still thinks it can penalise its loyal customers by over a million pounds every month. It cannot continue to bury its head in the sand.
"While Three claims in its adverts that "phones are good", its customers may find their experience anything but, as their provider falls behind in refusing to end this practice."
It also adds that Three's stance goes against the Ofcom "Fairness for Customers" commitment, signed by all the major operators earlier in the year.
Three, no stranger to run-ins with Ofcom already proactively seeks out customers coming to the end of their contract through its phone sales team, and it's likely that the company believes that if you're not going to talk to them, they've done all they can. Except they haven't.
In a statement given to INQ, a Three spokesperson said: "The current proposals are not in customers' best interests. Three has some of the lowest prices and unmatched propositions on the market. We've always put customers first and continue to do so. Applying an arbitrary discount to tariffs will not effectively tackle what really matters - helping them to find a contract which is both best-suited to their needs and priced fairly.
"As the leading campaigner for easy switching for the mobile industry, we are working hard to create a market where customers are engaged and happy, by pushing for easier switching, all handsets to be unlocked, end-of-contract notifications and best tariff advice." μ
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