Fixed Means Fixed Mystery shopping 'fixed' contracts
Most mobile phone companies have a clause in their contracts that allows them to raise the prices by up to the rate of RPI. But do their customers know this? When we launched our Fixed Means Fixed campaign 70% of people on fixed term mobile contracts didn't know about these increases - they thought that the price was fixed too.
Which? went undercover to see if mobile phone shop assistants would tell us that the price of the contract they were selling us could rise. Watch the video to see a snapshot of the answers we got, and the overall results of our research.
Mobile phone mystery shopping - the results
Our research showed that it was unsurprising so many people believed a 'fixed' contract to come at a fixed price - 92% of the mobile phone shop assistants failed to draw our attention to this when explaining a contract.
When prompted with a question about whether the contract was for a fixed price, 82% of shop assistants told us that it was.
On further questioning, we were able to ascertain more information, although when reminded of the recent price rises 28% of assistants still told us that the contract price could not go up.
Perhaps even more worrying were some of the reasons we were given for the rises. Some assistants said that the recent price rises were imposed by the government, with some blaming rises in VAT. In fact, the price rises were imposed by the networks themselves.
Which? has submitted a complaint to Ofcom and is calling on consumers to pledge support for our campaign. Let's get the regulator, and the mobile networks, to take swift action on this issue so that customers no longer have to worry about mid-contract price increases. Join us in telling them that Fixed Means Fixed.
Who did we visit?
Which? researchers went undercover to a range of mobile phone shops. These included:
- Orange, T-mobile, Vodafone and Three mobile - the four networks that have raised their fixed-term contract prices in the last year.
- O2, which increased its prices after we carried out this mystery shop.
- Phones4U and the Carphone Warehouse - the two largest independent chains.