Ofcom to consult on broadband and landline price hikes
Ofcom is to launch a consultation aimed at protecting consumers from surprise increases in the price of broadband, home phone and mobile services within fixed contracts.
The communications regulator conducted a review earlier this year into the fairness of certain contractual terms, examining 1,644 consumer complaints about changes in conditions between September 2011 and May 2012.
This investigation highlighted several issues with the effectiveness of existing rules that communications providers are forced to comply with and also identified the potential for causing harm to consumers.
Set to be published by the end of the year, the consultation will consider whether it is appropriate to impose rate changes during fixed-term contracts, as well as examining related issues such as the transparency of price variations.
Ofcom's analysis discovered that many consumers complained about not being made aware of potential price hikes, with some arguing that providers should not be able to increase charges during the life of the contract.
Others took issue with the size of the increase and its impact on their finances.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom's consumer group director, said: "Having considered the large number of consumer complaints, we will soon consult on ways to address consumer concerns and ensure they are being treated fairly in this area."