Major mobile phone companies agreed with the Government in December 2013 to introduce a liability limit to protect customers from excessive costs if their phone was used fraudulently when it was lost or stolen.
However, more than a year later, Vodafone, O2, EE and Virgin have failed to implement a limit. While Three's customer liability is capped, customers will still have to pay the first £100 if the loss or theft is reported within 24 hours.
We found that a third of people with a mobile phone contract would find it difficult to cope with an unexpected expense of £100, and six in 10 think they should not have to pay any of the costs incurred from fraudulent use when their phone is lost or stolen.
Our executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:
'People should not have to foot the bill if criminals run up expensive charges when their phone is lost or stolen. Mobile firms agreed to introduce a limit on excessive costs over a year ago but have still not implemented safeguards that really protect their customers.
We think mobile firms need to give customers 48 hours to report a lost or stolen phone. Our research found that a quarter of people said they have accidentally left their phone somewhere for a whole day or overnight in the last two years.
Which? Conversation user Mike was faced with a huge bill:
'My phone was stolen abroad earlier this year and despite being locked, the Sim was used to rack up over £2,000 in a few hours before I could report it stolen.'
Richard Lloyd added:
'Consumers are already losing out to the tune of more than £5bn by not being on the best mobile deals. With people fast losing trust in mobile operators, it's time for the industry to keep its promise and ensure that no one is faced with more unfair cost through no fault of their own.'
New proposals from the Government will protect consumers from huge bills run up on stolen mobiles.