Ofcom gives hope to those locked into unfair phone contracts
3rd Jan 2013 | 10:18
'Get out of mid-contract price rises free' card
Ofcom has announced some new proposals to let you out of your mobile and broadband contracts if the prices are increased midway through the term.
Ofcom wants to bring in the new 'exit without penalty' because a review found that consumers are disgruntled with the current situation that seems to be on the side of network, allowing them to up prices willy nilly.
The new proposals will also require networks and ISPs to be upfront about the potential for any price hikes when you sign up.
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At the moment, if your phone network or ISP decides to hike up its fee at any point during your contract, there's not much you can do beyond sucking it up and paying the increased rate, or shelling out for hefty early termination fees.
Currently, the only exception is if a customer can persuade their provider that the price increase would cause 'material detriment' - so, yeah, good luck with that.
It's not a done deal though, with Ofcom now inviting 'stakeholders' to respond (that'll be the networks and ISPs) - there's a chance that one of its alternative options will prove more popular.
These include introducing variable price contracts which require you to 'opt-in' to the price changes at the start of the contract, or simply forcing providers to make it clear that prices may go up during the contract.
Why not just ban price rises? After all, when you sign up to a contract, you're agreeing terms that are laid out - it doesn't seem fair that companies can change these up at the drop of a hat while you're bound to abide by whatever they decide.
Ofcom considered an outright ban but "does not think this would be consistent with the European legal framework" so hasn't included it as an option.