Britons allowed to quit mobile contracts if prices rise

The UK’s major telcos have signed up to government plans to let customers exit mobile and broadband contracts if prices go up.

Britons allowed to quit mobile contracts if prices rise

Four mobile players – EE, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Three – have agreed to the proposals, announced by telecoms regulator Ofcom last month. Of the major mobile operators, O2 is the only holdout, saying that it wanted more “clarity” on the proposals before getting on board.

Sky, Virgin and BT have also signed up, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said.

Under Ofcom’s proposals, providers will have to give customers 30 days’ notice of any mid-contract price hikes and communicate changes “clearly and transparently”. The changes would also give businesses and individuals the right to leave their contracts without penalty.

“Phone companies have listened to government and to their customers and I welcome their agreement to protect them from unexpected costs and mid-contract price rises,” said consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson.

Mandatory

Ofcom pointed out that all telecoms providers would have to abide by the plans anyway.

“Companies don’t sign up, it’s a decision we make,” said a spokesman. “The industry has to abide by that decision – that’s all telecoms providers.”

But a spokesman for DCMS, which is working with telcos to enforce Ofcom’s guidance, said voluntary sign-up could mean the changes happen more quickly, though he couldn’t say when.

Under Ofcom’s guidance, operators will also have to cap bills on lost or stolen phones by spring next year. They will also need to eliminate roaming charges within the EU, as per the 2016 deadline set by the European Commission.

The changes to mobile and broadband contracts will come into effect from 23 January, said Ofcom.

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