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back to article Voda: Brit kids will drown in TIDAL WAVE of FILTH - it's all Ofcom's fault

Vodafone UK reckons it will be strong-armed into sending smutty text messages to kids, thanks to a new proposal by Ofcom. The watchdog wants operators to set prices for the duration of a contract in stone or ensure customers are notified ahead of any changes. Vodafone's full response to the proposal hasn't been published yet, …

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FAIL

Morons at Vodaphone

Really? Why can't they simply fix the price of pay-numbers in to a standard table and make any sex lines, etc, change their number prefix if they want to change the cost?

Then you can see at a glance from the first 4 digits (or via an app that performs the look-up) what a call is going to cost. No need to tell kiddies anything about what those numbers are actually for then.

Muppets, and desperate ones at that.

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Re: Morons at Vodaphone

Says the guy who cant spell VodaFone correctly...... lolz

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Re: Morons at Vodaphone

"Really? Why can't they simply fix the price of pay-numbers in to a standard table and make any sex lines, etc, change their number prefix if they want to change the cost?"

Hang on. So if I have a pay number, say starting with 0845, and Vodafone want to change how much THEY charge their users to call it, I have to change my number? (even if BT et al. don't change how much they charge their users?)

Isn't the idea that when operators change how much they charge for a number (service, etc.), they have to tell their users first.

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@BristolBachelor

In this era of "free" minutes the caller should be in a position to know the price of all such numbers independently of the network.

It could be made to work for you as well.

For example, you get a fixed 7-digit number and it is prefixed 0845 for a given price, say, 5p/min. If they want to change more commission (if not fixed percentage by Ofcom) and on VodaFone you dial 0846, or 0847, etc for 6p/7p/etc. That was you get the same in all cases, and callers get to see which network is charging the most for non-"free" calls.

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Re: Morons at Vodaphone

British people are really being abused by carriers....

Too hard to set fixed prices for a 2 year period? laughable!

They manage to do it in about every other european country as well as in the U.S.

Just burn them down...

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FAIL

Mobile operators are not really recognising how customers view their contracts with them.

They see it as a fixed term, fixed price contract. No matter if the operators say that price changes are covered in the small print or not, that is the customer perception and it is nearly always sold that way. So any price rise will always piss a customer off.

Of course the operators are going to fight it but it just shows to customers their attitude, why don't they just spend their energy highlighting the key points in the small print instead? They all do it so their is no competitive disadvantage here.

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The operators contributed to that perception constantly marketing that you get x minutes, y texts, and z megabytes for a fixed monthly fee. Funny how they don't have a problem with that as long as it worked in their favour.

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Childcatcher

What is inappropriate about telling children that services intended for adults cost a lot of money? Are Voda worried that this will immediately make the kids think "ooooo, sex, I'm going to blow £10 pocket money on that number I've just learned about" ?

If the kids are old enough to know what a sex line is, it does no harm to tell them that it's expensive. If they aren't old enough then the worst that will happen is one of those "Mummy, what's a sex line?" conversations that any parent should expect at some point, and should take advantage of to educate his/her child.

Sounds to me much more like Voda trying a "won't you think of the children" scare to persuade Ofcom to back off on something they don't want. Muppets.

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Childcatcher

Suddenly, they think of the children. Hooray!

Then again, I wouldn't want to be spammed with such.

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Anonymous Coward

Greedy Rascals

Wasnt this the same company that got its tax written off after a cosy lunch with the HMRC chief and is also under investigation of tax avoidance in India?

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Re: Greedy Rascals

To be fair (grudgingly) to Voda the India thing is afaik at least partially where the Indian Govt changed the law and applied it retrospectively which has got to be a dirty rotten cheat in anyones book.

Totally agree with the comfy tea with HMRC point though.

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DJV
Unhappy

Change the law and apply it retrospectively?

At least that could never happen here, could it?

Oh wait...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/15/dwp-law-change-jobseekers-poundland

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FAIL

Brilliant...

Using the 'Think of the Children' excuse to get out of contractual changes.

Vodafone Board Meeting...

"Hmmm, we dont really want to do this, how can we get out of it?"

"Lets see, we could blame it on the peado-terrorists!!"

"Brilliant, that'll stuff Ofcom! If they make us do it, we'll just say we're forced to SPAM kiddies with adverts for pron. If the kids call the numbers we profit! If we're told to stop, we can jack the prices at will! PROFIT!"

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What a crap excuse

Smacks of the Daily Mail "think of the children" rubbish.

We cant change our dubious practise of changing contacts because we will send sex messages to your sprogs

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Re: What a crap excuse

when you do think of children -- you end up getting locked up.

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Go

While I'm glad that Ofcom are looking into contracts where the payment can be varied, I think we have to admit that some of the blame lies with the lazy public accepting these 'deals'. Nowadays it's fairly easy to buy a sim free handset and get a rolling contract that leaves you free to walk away on short notice.

The networks will grumble for a bit because they don't want to go to the effort of changing their ways, but eventually one of them will do their legwork and offer a tarriff that is 'guaranteed for the life of the contract' (with some legalese caveats protecting their backs) and the rest will follow like an avalanche.

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Childcatcher

Sorry they have always been referred to as 'Adult Entertainment-1' or similar.

Methinks the pips are now been squeezed, a contract is a mutual thing not something imposed by a supplier.

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Stop

Surely all they have to do

Is tell you when IN contract costs change (number of minutes, which numbers you can call inside these minutes, the same for texts and how much data you get). Those costs, wrapped up in your monthly bill, are what people worry about changing. If 0878 numbers change rates then most people don't care.

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About bloody time

They have all been getting away with this for far too long. This should have been stamped out a long time ago due to the way the operators market and sell these deals.

If they truly are unable to set prices over a two year period then the solution would seem quite simple don't offer contracts that long. Yes I understand it's to recoup the handset subsidy but it would probably be for the best anyway if the market went that way with cheaper contracts and people paying full price for their handset.

The current system is far too one sided with the operators seemingly able to increase whatever charges whenever they want and then consistently arguing it's not a significant change so you can't get out of the contract.

Doesn't just have to be an increase in line rental seen plenty of cases with things like charges for non geographical numbers jumping a few hundred percent for example and for some people it can have a massive impact but at the moment they are powerless to do anything about it.

Voda are obviously just trying any tactic to try and stop this but I would guess they aren't the mystery operator with the mass amount of complaints. My money would be on Orange/EE as they used to love ramping prices up whenever they thought they could get away with it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: About bloody time

Subsidy? What subsidy?

They have long gone. The actual cost of handsets are typically £200 to £250 max. (Google Nexus 4 series).

Contracts usually costs upwards of £600 (includes minutes). Where's the subsidy.

Its a very vague excuse by the operators justifying 2 years contract to "recover" the subsidy.

Worst than a credit card APR.

Cost of minutes and data are already sunken/recovered/amortised long ago. This is pure profits they are talking about.

Thinking of the children is the last emotional blackmail they are using onthe paper tiger (OFCOM).

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Re: About bloody time

Pricing for the Nexus 4 was a joke on contract with most operators wanting the same amount for it as they wanted for an iPhone.

I suppose subsidy is no longer the correct term but people still do benefit from it because they don't have to shell out for the handset up front and then have a predictable monthly cost for a fixed period instead. Gave up on that game long ago though because as you point out the cost of a contract is simply too high.

Bought my last few phones including my current S3 and then use a pay as you go service. Both 3 and Giffgaff offer similar packages to what you get on contract and in the long term it saves a fortune.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: buying phones offline

sorry if this is a bit 'off topic' and maybe even a bit dense. I often see people championing the idea of buying a phone offline, then using a 1month rolling contract. Great idea, but apart from iPhones which you can buy in your local Apple Store (if you have one) I cant really think of another shop that I can go to, to pick up a phone, without also getting myself involved in a contract of some sort.

Any suggestions?

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WTF?

Re: buying phones offline

Carphone warehouse, phones4u, tesco, sainsburys, asda, argos etc all sell PAYG phones, although you may have to take out a £10 top up but no contract.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: buying phones offline

so it's not so much buying them 'offline' more PAYG, and ditching the SIM. Thanks.

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Re: buying phones offline

Pretty sure you can just buy handset only in most of the non-network shops. My last 2 phones were SIM only unlocked to any network, brand new. Admittedly this was from Play.com so not much use if you're committed to an in store buy - I presume you want to have a tester model in your hand before buying?

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Black Helicopters

Re: About bloody time

"Subsidy? What subsidy?

They have long gone. The actual cost of handsets are typically £200 to £250 max. (Google Nexus 4 series).

Contracts usually costs upwards of £600 (includes minutes). Where's the subsidy."

The exception does not prove the rule. Nexus was an operator rip-off.

A typical high end Smartphone on a ~£36 per month contract will be around £400-500 to buy. So Around £20 per month is 'subsidy / installment'. Since the handset was already bought from Samsung/HTC/LG/Sony, this will not vary. Of the rest, some went as commission to the retailer, and again this is fixed. Getting to the business end, the rest of the cash is split 3 ways, OpEx, CapEx and profit. Let's peg these as evenly split so around £5 each.

Of these, CapEx is typically fixed for 3 years or so by an RfQ process, and in fact has some price erosion in, so the network kit bought at the end of the contract has negative inflation. So all that is left that the operators cannot fully plan for is OpEx. BUT: A good portion of this is now Managed Services, which are on a 3 to 7 year contract, so no scary price rises there. So then it's down to Operator Staff, who are being slowly whittled away.

In short, around £2.50, or 7% of your contract is subject to RPI/CPI of around 3%*. That's 8p per month increase. Run the same calculation on a mid-range device at £200 cost and £15 per month and you are looking at £8 per month of subsidy and variable costs of around £1.25 per month so 4p per month paper increase.

If T-Mobile want to justify why they could not fiscally manage to plan £0.04 to £0.08 of cost increase per year into my contract, I'll be happy to have that meeting. However, the latest T-Mobile price increase is "typically about 79p". It is incumbent upon me to prove that this is of 'material detriment' to me, but it should be incumbent upon them to show why they need a price increase of 1000% of their variable cost rise.

* Not that any TelCo is paying 3% pay-rise in any case!

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Re: buying phones offline

Since 1998 I have bought 3 phones SIM-less and simply put my current SIM into each of them as I went along. Each phone was bought locally from a physical store, the last one from a Vodafone reseller. So it can be done.

Admittedly, I'm in Oz so it might be a little different from the UK.

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Fixing the Price over 2 Years Is Difficult

If phone operators don't think they can competatively predict the right call charges for 24 months, they are free to only offer contracts of 12 months where expected cost forecasts will be more accurate.

This is a case of the mobile phone companies wanting their cake and eating it, they want to lock customers in for long stretches of time but don't want to be locked into contract themselves.

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Children and contracts...

I was under the impressions, perhaps mistakenly, that you had to be above a certain age to have a mobile phone contract (not sure if this would be 16 or 18?).

That being the case, there should be no circumstance where a change in prices on a contract should result in a message to a child.

Unless of course a child has a mobile phone on a contract in their parents name, but if Voda are aware of that situation they should be sending the information to the bill payer not the user. If that situation exists but Voda are not aware they can't be held responsible.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Children and contracts...

Children can have contracts, backed by a parent, but Vodafone's point is that it's not just changes to the price of a contract which will require notification.

Vodafone actually says its happy to let people know when a contract price, or any of its prices, change, but when a sex line ups its per-minute pricing the current wording from Ofcom could require the operator to tell every customer about the change.

Bill.

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Unhappy

Also Fix Landline & Broadband for Duration of Contract

How often have you signed up for a year at one price only to have a price increase imposed after a month or two. Of course the telco didn't know it was putting up prices just after the massive advertising campaign.

This ruins any attempt to be a savvy shopper and negates all the work you put into your comparison spreadsheet.

This unprincipled behaviour encourages similar behaviour from consumers; which is not good for all of us.

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Re: Also Fix Landline & Broadband for Duration of Contract

"How often have you signed up for a year at one price only to have a price increase imposed after a month or two"

AIUI when this happens you have the option of walking away from the contract, penalty-free.

As others have pointed out, contracts have to have 2 parties in agreement.

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Anonymous Coward

Operator A

I for one would like to know who Operator A is - one that has garnered a lot of web commentary about it's pricing changes as well as new prices for it's super-fast mobile network?

It's always the consumer that pays - so when we get outraged at massive bank bonuses, the price of our mobile phone contracts etc it's because we see top execs making £ms in bonuses off the back of the lowly workers.

'Freedom for Tooting!'

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Happy

Re: Operator A

"I for one would like to know who Operator A is - one that has garnered a lot of web commentary about it's pricing changes as well as new prices for it's super-fast mobile network?"

FOI request?

OftComm is a public body after all.

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Meh

Re: Operator A

It's EE/Orange.

Absolutely no doubt about it.

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Joke

Knee-jerk

Knee-jerk...

Knee-jerk!

Did I mention the reflexes?

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Since when have Vodafone...

....given a damn about spamming their users?

One of the reasons I left VF was their constant spam by all the channels they could possibly contact me on.

Also (at least a few years ago) their terrible web portal thing, VodafoneLive, is plastered with 18+ content after 10pm at night. I don't think I ever told them I was over 18. I could easily have been running my child's phone in my name.

Less bothered about the children when they're selling smutty ringtones at £3.50 a go, I suppose.

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Flame

Operator A...

Could that possibly be the fruit based network that has raised prices 3 times within my current 2 year contract to fund their "amazing" new 4g network which doesn't cover anywhere outside the M25?

Bastards.

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Meh

So voda run adult entertainment companies.

I did not know this.

Because if they don't this sounds like some veryh creative interpretation of the wording of the Ofcomm ruling.

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Facepalm

But hang on a minute...

If one wishes to surf anything that Vodafone deem to be "adult" (which is by no means the same as pr*n), one has to ring them up and convince the support service that you are an of age. Therefore, since this mechanism already exists, why not just extend it to ("adult"?) premium numbers?

Job's a guddun

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Fix the symptoms or fix the problem

Operator A accounts for more than 80 per cent of complaints about price changes ... Universal reckons Ofcom should just slap that particular operator about a bit and forget the entire matter.

And then next year there will be a different Operator A, which will account for 80% of the new complaints about price changes.

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Surely the issue of contract price increases whilst still enforcing exit penalties is covered under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts (UTCC) legislation:

http://www.oft.gov.uk/about-the-oft/legal-powers/legal/unfair-terms/

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/2083/contents/made

Essentially this legisltation prevents contracts from being enforced which are completely biased in favor of the vendor, and against the rights of the consumer.

In the case of mobile phone price rises I have succesfully used UTCC to leave contracts without penalty, because whilst the contract does contain a clause allowing prices to be raised - when used in conjunction with a contract exit penalty the net effect is to bias the contract completely in favor of the vendor. I.e. they could effectively raise prices as often as they like, and by however much they like and still charge an exit penalty.

UTCC applies at this point, by only allowing the fair terms to still be enforced, and preventing unfair terms from being enforced. In my case, I offered the telecoms company the choice of keeping the contract price the same, OR allowing me to leave without penalty. But they cannot legally apply both contract terms as that would be unfair to the consumer under UTCC. They chose to allow me to exit without penalty - so I suggest anyone having similar problems studies up on the UTCC regulations.

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Bronze badge

So according to this interpretation, the services are likely to keep changing their prices as often as possible to get free spamvertising courtesy of Vodafone?

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