UK regulator Ofcom is considering a move that could result in UK consumers being able to get out of their mobile contracts if a network decides to up its prices.
An update to the general conditions applied to mobile phone contracts could entitle the consumer to terminate their agreement with a mobile network provider during a 12, 18 or 24 month contract, should their monthly tariff be increased during that time.
Ofcom carried out a review to find out how fair UK customers felt mobile phone contracts were, with 1,644 complaints notched up between September 2011 and May 2012. The result means that the regulator can now start looking into making things fairer for the consumer, including asking mobile networks to make the finer details clearer when it comes to potential price increases.
This doesn’t mean that the likes of O2 and EE can’t raise their prices in the future unfortunately, but it would mean that if you were in the middle of a contract and your network stuck a price hike on your bill, you’d be able to leave. As Ofcom puts it;
“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.”
After O2’s price hike towards the end of the last year we’re sure this will come as welcome news to many on that particular network, but if we’re being honest we think everyone would relish the opportunity to quit a mobile phone contract if prices were to increase.
Ofcom’s consultation period begins today with a deadline of March 14th, with a final decision expected to be made in June of this year.