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back to article Three bumps up mobile broadband contract charge

Three is pushing up the price of its broadband, applying a rather-generous inflationary rate to customers who thought they were on fixed-rate contracts. Customers who are currently paying £15 a month for Three's broadband will be billed an extra 56 pence next month – ex VAT of course – in a rise that Three describes as " …

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Anonymous Coward

also in the small print

there is also a clause in the small print of most contracts which means that changes such as this mean that a user can end the contract because the agreement has changed

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FAIL

Wrong I'm afraid

If the contract allows for an unspecified price change then that would allow the user to end the contract. However, if the contract is as I suspect, and allows the operator to raise the price by inflation (or some other specified amount) then the agreement has not changed in any way by them doing this and thus the user has no rights to cancel.

Basically, if any contract allows the supplier to raise the price by anything they want, then the consumer has the right to cancel if they don't like it. But if the contract clearly states what they can change it by, and if that is deemed reasonable (which a measure based on inflation would be so deemed) then that's no ground for the consumer to then decide they want to cancel what they agreed to by signing the contract in the first place.

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Re: You did read the small print, didn't you?

No. Although as you get 15GB for £15.99 (previously £15), it's still good value.

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Stop

Not good value, completely nonfunctional product, for me.

Okay, well it's good you've had a positive experience, but, to me it takes typically between two and five minutes to load many web pages when nothing else running; chronic timeout/non connection of apps like Outlook (forget about anti-virus updates etc); chronic conflict of dongle with voice dictation hardware (power issues?); having to wait an eternity for web pages to load fully before voice dictation generates commands...

Three Mobile customer services staff seem to think the customers are all stupid, have no conception of there being minimum standards to which their product must conform, no conception of British consumer law, and are not recommended for speaking with if you have high blood pressure.

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OFI
Stop

24 month contracts

Well here's an idea. Get rid of these ever increasing insanely long contracts :-P

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Paris Hilton

but what about the fiscally retarded?

A lot of people nowadays (I'm going to suggest these are primarily 'young' people) have come to expect that they will be able to get the latest bells-and-whistles smartphone, generous voice, text and data allowances AND a playstation 3 when they sign up for their mobile contract, and all for the low low price of £29.99 / month for 24 months ("24 months, well that like not even a year")

Won't you please think of the (technically 'adult') children.

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FAIL

Change in the contract - both parties have the option to end it then

Substantive changes in the contract mean that either party can choose to end it without consequence as far as I know. Hard to argue that the price paid for a service isn't a substantive change...

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Anonymous Coward

3.2%?

Funnily enough, when it came to annual salary reviews, it was announced here that the recession was still in full flow and the cost of living increase would match the inflation rate of 1%...

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Unhappy

+ VAT increases in Jan 2011

Yeah I also got a letter from 3 about this for my MBB - I am now past the end of my original contract period. The letter also told me that the bills would be going up from January because VAT increases to 20%. Marvellous!

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Did IQ's just drop suddenly ?

Your own link to the ONS site shows that "inflation" is running at some point between 3.2% and 4.5%, depending on whether you decide to use CPI, RPI or RPIX.

As much as our beloved government would like us to use CPI as inflation, most of us have mortgages and pay council tax (the main differentiator between CPI and RPI), so why wouldn't you use RPI ?

They've actually chosen a rate between the two (3.73), erring closer to CPI than RPI.

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Stop

Prices can go up as well as down.

These sort of business antics are precisly why at the end of January, I won't be renewing my fixed term contract with my current mobile provider (t-everywhere). It doesn't seem like there are many 18month contracts left (remember when there were 12 month contracts?), and if there are, they're an expensive monthly cost (£30+) & offer either crappy phones bundled in, or offer very little discount vs a sim-free handset.

I don't need 16 gazillion free text messages or 45billion voice minutes every month, I just want a hundred texts, some minutes, and the interwebz, something which isn't catered for under the main network offerings, so I shall likely be looking at the fringe tariff offerings from the likes of tmo (30 day rolling contract) or giffgaff and saving anywhere between £10 and £15 on line rental, which I can plow back into a phone fund.

Network providers are trying to appease their revolting shareholders with increased earnings, but I think many customers are simply getting fedup with this constant wriging to shake out the last few pennies and can't see the point of upgrading to the latest iNexus when their existing phone does pretty much the same thing, only with one less bell and one less whistle.

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Thumb Up

I was the same

So I went with Tesco Mobile (02) rolling one month deal. £10 for 500 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited data.

No stupid bloody £40 for the rest of your life offering which is what everyone wanted to throw at me,

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Silver badge

I was the same as well.....

....with Tesco £10 a month rolling contract. However,the unlimited texts is actually (if I remember) 3,000 texts a month (whatever; a number of texts that I can't even imagine, let alone send). The 'unlimited' data is 500MB 'fair use' policy. This is about 16MB a day, which should be fine for picking up e-mail, checking the weather, reading a few news feeds and the El Reg site :)

If you go over the data limit, they will spank you hard, so get a network traffic counter. I recommend Net Counter by Cyril Jaquier for the Android. It's free and it measures Wi-Fi and Mobile data in separate, adjustable format counters. You can also check your minutes, texts and data totals on your Tesco mobile account web page.

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And in other news...

I use Plus Net Broadband at home. From next month they are increasing my plusnet Unlimited tariff from £20 to £25 per month, that's a 25% increase. AND despite the fact that I've been paying regularly by Credit Card for the last 2 years without ever missing a payment. They have suddenly decided that they are also going to charge me an additional £1.50 per month for the privilege of paying by said method.

So what do I get for this, a 20Mb connection you might think?

No. I've never had more than 1.2Mb tops.

Write an article about that.

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Bronze badge
Thumb Down

Off topic (plusnet)

I am inclined to agree. Having hear nothing but 'good things' from various people, I decided to go with them when i moved house (almost a year ago) on my 'Premium' package, (80gb downloads a month upto 24mb connection) I have never seen above 5mb, and I can quite literally see the exchange from the bottom of my road (which has apparently upgraded)

I looked into how to leave them to go else where (possibly Be) and found that it would cost me £105 to leave through differed setup and installation costs.

Rest assured, i'll be gone as soon as I can get away without having to give them any /more/ cash than I already have

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Be*

Cheaper, better - you should really check them out, can't recommend them enough since dumping rubbish like virgin/sky/eclipse

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Plusnet

Just for a bit of balance

> We're writing to remind you that the government is increasing VAT to 20%

> from 4thJanuary 2011. But we're pleased to advise that we're freezing

> the price of our broadband services. So what you pay for your Force9

> Broadband Your Way Option 2

> (Monthly Contract) package will stay the same. Champion.

14.99 for 8Mb

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Thumb Up

Cost of living

I am I the only person who thinks that even in the current climate it should be possible for a company to price in to a two year agreement some inflationary effect. Lets see last year inflation, depending on the measure you use (CPI, RPI, RPIx, ASHE, etc) would be in the range of 0 to 4% assume 2% and apply that to the charges hey presto two year fixed rate deal.

Mind you I would simply terminate the agreement and move to someone else, get a new phone improved pricing etc and when they up the charges move again. The administrative cost of doing that for lots of customers would soon outweigh any benefit of a small increase in the monthly charge.

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WTF?

24 month pricing

I price building work for a living - fixed price for 24 months is common, and sadly no salary increase for 2 years is quite common as well....

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Funny...

Funny how everyone on another thread not a million miles away was screaming the the Telcos should charge for the services they provide instead of bitching that the services provided by GoogTube, Apple or Aunty are shafting their profits and could they please help pay for the needed upgrades...

As soon as an ISP ups it's price slightly everyone starts shouting well there are cheaper alternatives - I'm gonna end my contract - rah rah rah...

... and we wonder why the ISPs lie to us about "unlimited" contracts for a cheap fixed monthly rate.

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Silver badge

Journalist has Missed the point

"but when a contract lasts 24 months it's not surprising that the price can't be maintained over a couple of years"

What a stupid statement. The whole point of contracts (12,18,24) is that the provider has a guaranteed income, and the user has a guaranteed service level at the agreed price. So there is every expectation that the price can be maintained over the length of the contract (hence the opt-out if the contract changes).

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FAIL

Cake and eat it.

It’s the mobile operators, not the consumers, who want to lock people in to longer contacts for their own benefit, so it seems a bit rich when the operators can then move the goalposts mid-contract, even if it is catered for in the small print.

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Silver badge

Forward Pricing

"when a contract lasts 24 months it's not surprising that the price can't be maintained over a couple of years"

Rubbish. Fixed-price forward contracts are a basic type of agreement, from small maintenance contracts to multi-million FX forwards. And 24 months isn't an especially long tenor.

Of course, this wasn't actually a fixed-price contract...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: forward pricing

Whilst you may be right is technically wasn't a fixed-price contract, it was certainly marketed as one.

I understand that the name of the contract is itself "£15 a month".

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Anonymous Coward

keep ya poxy phone

Never will I take a contract phone again. Gone are the 'new phone every year' days.

You never hear the sales people telling you the 'small print' or provisos that affect the contract.

It's not enough for them retailers to bang on about the benefits when they make no mention of the pitfalls of their contracts, and NO its not enough to say its all in the small print!

Hardly unexpected tho, ripping illigitimi!

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Unhappy

No more contract phones for me

not since O2 decided that a 520% (no I haven't mis-typed that, five hundred and twenty) increase in line rental and around 100% was a reasonable change. 4 months of broken promises (well lies really) on the phone and ignored letters later I finally got the email address of someone near the top of the food chain who agreed that yes, I should have been given the option to terminate within contract period rather than being told "tough shit".

Then we come to 3, delightful bunch of Scots shysters that they are continued to hound my SO with bills and threatening letters for 2 years AFTER the end of her contract period, Hotel California stylee.

FWIW my broadband is on PAYG rolling 1 month contract too although since the original provider Metronet were swallowed up by Plusnet with a marked drop on customer service I predict trouble when I decide to move on from them too.

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Silver badge
Boffin

If British gas et al

can fix prices for two years, so can a mobile operator.

I'm lucky, i'm on friends and family which gets me 50% but since T-Mobile joined with Orange, im ditching my contract altogether. Cant stand orange and their utterly piss poor customer services.

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Stop

Not yet

I'm with Orange and have been for a good number of years...I couldn't get rid of them now without it costing me a fortune.

My current package

18 month (month 5)

400 any network mins (+400 mins loyalty bonus)

unlimited texts - I average around 2k a month

30 picture msg / month

Unlimited Mobile internet - again around 2/2.5 gig a month

USB dongle for my lappy with 2 gig per month

Home broadband (8 meg and rock solid reliability - strange but true)

I pay £12.50 all in and that includes a fiver for the dongle which I didn't have to take.

I've sorta painted myself ito a corner although to be completely fair I've always found them to be pretty good.

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How do their costs relate to inflation ?

Telcos including wireless operators have costs that bear little relationship to inflation so I don't agree I afraid that this is acceptable. Besides as an operator you need to factor in any increases in your costs when you set one or two year tarrifs. We'd need to understand how their capex and opex - relating to this service - vary over time to determine whether their margin has fallen. I've told 3 that having studied the contract carefully I am ending it as they have increased their price. The contract is poorly written and open to dual interpretation.

Either way it's not a great way to build customer loyalty. Looks to me like a good day to bury bad news approach - VAT's increasing so we'll add a bit more on as well.

And for that reason I'm out - of being a 3 customer!

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Bronze badge

Inflation?

Well - staff like to get pay rises that bear some relation to inflation - and the cost of kit is increasing due to the relative weakness of the pound. I think inflation affects all businesses.

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Bronze badge

Who used to say "The cost of calling keeps on falling"?

Phone and data service providers are supposed to be competing for our patronage. And data service priced per byte tends to get cheaper - although I agreed an upgrade from 5 GB to 15 GB monthly after downloading a Linux DVD but have rarely used that much data since. Well, I rarely watch online video, I'm sure that would make a big difference. So it's not so much a 15 GB service, as just a mobile, fast, and fairly available service.

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Unhappy

Salary/Inflation

"staff like to get pay rises that bear some relation to inflation" - Like and get aren't the same thing. Certainly not around here.

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Alert

My Problem with 3 MBB

was that I was promised a text when I was getting close to my limit and then for every £10 spent after that. Well they do send the texts but they were taking 2-3 days to get to me. I remember phoning and saying I was promised the text to be told that it had been sent. Their records showed it had been sent (not that it had been received) and I did get it a few days later but that didn't help me when I'd watched one TV show and that had generated 3 texts, one to say I was approaching the limit and 2 for each £10 I spent.

Being the largest provider of MBB dongle's they did start well but it's just too damn pricey unless you only want it for a few out and about emails. Saying that I have had my phone deals with them since 2005 and am more than happy with everything I get for my £20 a month.

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Bronze badge

Going over the limit is pricey

Yes with my MBB I've been over my limit a couple of times (I'm in a fixed line broadband not spot so use 3 as my main network connection), the first time I went out and got a one month package (5GB for £15 much better value than paying the excess data charges). The second time this happened, a call to Three Customer Services got them to put a bar on my account at my monthly limit. I now get a browser message when I have less than 100MB left and attempt to use the Internet, so can just activate a one month SIM...

Appreciate with the smartphone, life isn't quite so simple particularly when on contract as 3 don't seem to have a mechanism for you purchase additional Internet data other than to charge an excess.

What I find irritating is that I'm getting lots of calls from 3 to purchase additional packages (eg. PAYE phone) at a 20% discount, but none of the packages being offered would allow me to effectively take the new package and terminate the price increased packages...

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