Fixed Means Fixed Pledge your support
From 2011 to 2013 O2, Vodafone, EE (Orange and T-Mobile) and Three all announced price rises for their mobile phone contracts. People who had signed one or two year deals expecting to pay £20 or £30 per month were suddenly told they'd have to pay more.
What many don't know is that mobile phone contract terms and conditions usually allow providers to increase their prices even for customers on 'fixed' contracts.
Which? submitted a formal complaint to Ofcom calling on the regulator to take action. Due to consumer pressure and our Fixed Means Fixed campaign, Ofcom launched a consultation between January and March 2013 on how to protect consumers from surprise price hikes on fixed mobile, landline and broadband contracts. Pledge your support for our campaign:
RPI price increases
Never has my car insurance company told me the price is going up half way through my policy, but mobile companies can do it.
Which? Conversation commenter
So what's the problem? Well, currently most mobile phone company T&Cs allow them to raise prices as long as the increase isn't 'materially detrimental'. They state that this means they can increase them by up to RPI - the Retail Price Index. This can vary - in November 2011 Orange raised its contract prices by 4.34%, and in December 2012 O2 became the last major mobile provider to announce a price rise, adding 3.2% to customers' bills. You can explore the history of these price rises in our Fixed Means Fixed timeline.
Customers were shocked at the rises - although the money involved is relatively small, no one expects a 'fixed' contract to increase in price. It has been one of our most popular topics on Which? Conversation, with more than 2,000 comments from unhappy mobile phone customers.
What Which? wants
What is the point of having a contract if the company can vary it? ... As far as I am concerned you have changed my contract and therefore I should have the option to leave.
Which? Conversation commenter
At Which? we don't think this is fair. If a mobile phone company sells a contract as 'fixed', it shouldn't just be for a fixed length. Other key terms, such as service quality (ie the number of minutes, texts and data) and price, should be fixed too.
If mobile providers can't or won't commit to the notion that 'fixed means fixed', operators should be upfront about this in their advertising and give customers the ability to cancel without penalty if they change the deal.
This puts the power back in the hands of consumers - a customer can refuse a contract with variable terms, or they can accept a contract with fixed terms and cancel if those terms change.
Thanks to your support, Ofcom launched a consultation between January and March 2013 on price rises during fixed contracts. Ofcom’s consultation proposed a number of options to protect consumers from unexpected price rises. In our consultation response, we welcome Ofcom’s recommended proposal to give consumers the option to exit without penalty if prices go up mid-contract.
Tell Ofcom what you think by adding your support using the pledge above, and don’t forget to let your friends know about our campaign.