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Consumers can't be handcuffed to price hike deals

Wednesday, October 23rd 2013 by Dean Reilly
In recent years, we’ve watched mobile, TV, broadband and landline providers enforce unexpected mid-contract price hikes on consumers. These increases – often unannounced and giving customers no warning - have led to many unsuspecting members of the public having to find extra money to cover their bills.

After budgeting a fixed amount for their entertainment and communications, unexpected jumps in monthly charges have proved problematic for some customers, and unwelcome to virtually all of them - and understandably so.

With Ofcom clarifying where they stand on the practice of mid-contract changes – labeling the move as being ‘materially detrimental’ to consumers – we’re hopeful that all providers, irrespective of whether they’ve enforced such charges on their customers or not, will avoid such moves in the future.

Under the recommendations, customers would be given at least 30 days notice of any intended changes and given the option of leaving without penalty – irrespective of how far into their minimum term they are. This is positive, but doesn’t take into account the inconvenience and potential disruption caused by having to virtually ‘jump-ship’ from one provider to another.

Furthermore, there are other limitations on the guidelines. Currently, they only apply to new landline, broadband, and mobile contracts that are entered into after 23rd October 2013. Good news for anyone signing up for a new deal in the future – but not so much for those already committed to a contract.

While we appreciate that there are often instances where companies face unexpected bills of their own, we feel that the onus should be on the provider, not the consumer, to shoulder the responsibility.

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