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back to article If your telco or mobe provider hikes 'fixed' contract fees you can now ESCAPE - Ofcom

UK consumers who are locked into lengthy landline, broadband and mobile contracts have greater protection from being stung by price hikes starting from today, said communications watchdog Ofcom. If a telco or mobile carrier jacks up its price tag above the monthly subscription agreed when a consumer signed up to the contract, …

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Anonymous Coward

As The Register noted at the time, the regulatory meddling means that from February 2014 we'll all have to pay a little more for our mobile and broadband contracts as the fixed prices offered by providers will need to tally with their operational costs

Don't worry, that nice Mr Milliband will be along shortly to explain how he's going to freeze/slash/abolish broadband and mobile fees :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Don't worry, that lovely, ordinairy Mr. Cameron will be following behind, doing exactly the same thing but blaming the Milliband in front...

Like either of them are of any use whatsoever....

However, the one running the government at the moment has to shoulder the responsibilty, it's part of the job.

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Anonymous Coward

downvotes

but no argument. May as well rename it from "downvote" to "posting an unconfortable truth that I just can't process".....

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Re: downvotes

Since when did any government actually take responsibility for it's actions?

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Re: downvotes

"posting an unconfortable truth that I just can't process"

I think you may be over-estimating the quality of your own post here...

As happens Ofcom are independent of government so it's isn't Cameron's responsibility anyway. That is rather the point of having regulators relatively independent of political interference. One could argue that it's the voters fault - as Conservative pre-election policy was to abolish Ofcom. However the Lib Dems didn't let them. As the voters didn't give the Conservatives an outright majority at the election, perhaps they wanted to save Ofcom?

Anyway, if you were playing the 'uncomfortable truth' card in your post, perhaps it would have done better without the attempts at 'satire'...

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Since when did any government actually take responsibility for it's actions?

Thatcher's took credit for winning the war it caused. Though I do recall one senior military type wondering whose side here government was on. I suppose they didn't promote him upstairs or sideways, did they?

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Re: Since when did any government actually take responsibility for it's actions?

The Foreign Office team resigned over the Falklands. They specifically did take responsibility. Even though it was at least a decade or two of Foreign Office and MOD policy neglect that encourange the Junta to think they could get away with the invasion. That one was at least as much down to the advice the politicians were receiving - as to the decisions they were making. There were warnings within the FCO of Argentina's intentions but they were ignored and not passed on up the chain.

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Anonymous Coward

@ I ain't Spartacus

My problem was downvotes with no argument.

My point was that the Milliband comment was irrelevant, I metioned Cameron purely because of that. Just to make it clearer, they're all a bunch of cunts as far as i'm concerned.

I presume your "democracy is to blame" point is also an attempt at 'satire'.....

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Re: @ I ain't Spartacus

I presume your "democracy is to blame" point is also an attempt at 'satire'.....

Only partially. Cameron isn't responsible for the decisions of Ofcom, which is indepenent. Although he is responsible for its existence, as he's PM. So if he doesn't like what it's doing, he can kill it. So you can argue he's overall responsible. Although that's pretty silly for a policy decision as minor as this, where the whole point of independent regulators was to take this kind of decision away from politicians.

Also Cameron did want to kill Ofcom in his bonfire of the Quangos. But the Lib Dems said no. So the voters are more responsible for this decision than Cameron. But of course neither are really responsible at all. Not that I think it's a bad decision.

You're the one that justified your anti-Cameron comments as 'the uncomfortable truth', not me. So I assumed you meant it seriously.

As for your, 'all politicians are a bunch of cunts' crap, no they aren't. Some are, others aren't. Some are useless, some good, some self-serving some do their best for what they believe to be right. Some a mix of some/all of the above.

I know it's fashionable to say all politicians are the same, and they're all greedy and crap. But in fact it doesn't make you sound deliciously cynical, experienced and wise. It puts you in the Russel Brand talentless wanker who hasn't managed to rise above teenage level debating points level of political awareness.

I'll agree the Miliband comment was irrelevant to the topic. Although slightly more justified, as it was little differentn to his intervention on the energy industry - which is economically illiterate. And desperately cynical, given that a large chunk of the cost rises he's complaining about directly relate to the climate change levy that he brought in himself as Sec State for Energy less than 5 years ago.

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Paris Hilton

This way to the exit

Sure you can exit your contract, but I take that as meaning you can avoid paying the service provision element of the balance of the contract - ie pay for the balance on your handset, then you are free to go.

They aren't going to give you the shiny new I-Thing you've got for free!

Maybe they might offer you to hand it back, but I doubt it.

Paris - because even she knows there's no such thing as a free lunch

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Go

Re: This way to the exit

O2 saw this coming and that's why they now do a two part contract, a part for airtime and a credit agreement to buy the phone in instalments.

If you sign up for 24 months of airtime and the Telco or shop gives you a free phone, the phone is and always will be free. It's only the airtime you've signed up for.

Make sure you choose your next contract very carefully ;)

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Vic
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Re: This way to the exit

> They aren't going to give you the shiny new I-Thing you've got for free!

That depends on the wording of the contract.

If they phone is described as "free", then on termination of the contract - by exhaustion or by breach on either side - the phone belongs to you. But if it's you that's breached the contract, you owe a debt to make good.

If, however, the phone is on some sort of finance/HP agreement, then the above does not hold - it remains the property of the finance provider unless every payment is made. But this does get you certain rights under CCA74...

Vic.

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Boffin

"As The Register noted at the time, the regulatory meddling means that from February 2014 we'll all have to pay a little more for our mobile and broadband contracts as the fixed prices offered by providers will need to tally with their operational costs."

I'd suggest Kelly Fiveash spends too much time in the company of Telco Execs - this is just the type of scaremongering hype the Telcos want you to believe.

The truth is that the <3% increase (it wasn't allowed to go above RPI) on a small number of contracts over a part of the term was in fact a very small part of the income to the Telco, and since its still a competitive market the current round prices aren't going to change (unless there's a cartel running that we're not aware of).

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So does this mean that they can't up their monthly price by inflation anymore? (Or rather, if they do, I can get out of jail free?)

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Happy

Correct

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According to other reports, O2 updated their T&C's today so that anyone who signs up on a new contract agrees for their tariff to rise in line with inflation, effectively finding a loophole around Ofcom's new rules.

Looks like I won't be renewing my contract with them, then.

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I doubt it. Only if they put it upfront on the contract, say: 24 month contract £9.99 per month for the first year, followed by +inflation for year 2. If they hide it in the Ts&Cs, which is what they did before, then I very much doubt they can get away with it. The point is that they're selling a fixed-length, fixed-price contract with penalties if you try to leave early. So they shouldn't be allowed to change it either.

The sensible thing to do would be to sell all airtime contracts as SIM only. Then people could sort out their own phones, and maybe wouldn't upgrade quite so much. And would at least know the financial cost they were incurring for doing so, even if they'd still be free to ignore the environmental cost. But I think many people prefer their 'free' phones.

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Which inflation?

As we all know, there are several measures of inflation, and the government uses the high one or the low one depending on whether they're raising prices or benefits. Which one does O2 specify should be used?

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"O2 updated their T&C's today so that anyone who signs up on a new contract agrees for their tariff to rise in line with inflation"

That has been a standard provision of Telco contracts since the year dot...

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The point is that they're selling a fixed-length, fixed-price contract with penalties if you try to leave early. So they shouldn't be allowed to change it either.

Well said.

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Contract

The real problem is that the contract you are given to sign does not accurately reflect the contract that you are lead to believe you are agreeing to. Yes you should read and agree to the details. But if the advertising and the person in the shop tells you the price is £19.99 a month for 2 years then that's what it should be even if the document they give you to sign has a little star by that claim.

I don't want them to have to spend half an hour going through a boring contract with you in the shop, but the law for consumer contracts should simply be that any terms and conditions that are not what a reasonable person would expect from the advertising and what they were told in the shop should not be enforceable.

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Trollface

Re: Contract

Actually if the advertisement say the price is 19,99 a month for 2 years and they up the price in that time, you can at least take them to ASA, and bugger them for false advertising... ;)

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Re: Contract

"you can at least take them to ASA, and bugger them for false advertising... ;)"

If by "bugger" you mean stop them "running the ad again in its current form", then yeah ;-)

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Easy to bail...

It's been pretty easy to bail out of contracts recently, especially ones with T-Mob/Orange. They've been tidying up their cells, and reducing overlap.

This has resulted in some areas losing coverage completely. Which is exactly what happened to my brother. Suddenly no signal at home.

After he heard of a neighbour getting released he thought he'd have a go. It took a couple of phone calls (first 2 agents wouldn't release him mid-contract), the third agent was a bit more sensible as they were failing to provide the service he'd signed up for, and had been using happily for several months, and let him go... 12 months into a 24 month contract. He kept the phone. No fee (their breach after all).

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I don't know if just T-Mobile do this, but I've noticed when I look at my bills my monthly charge is actually higher than what I'm paying - but then there's a "discount" that brings it down to my actual monthly rate. I guess this means that the actual contract was for the full amount which lets them just reduce/chop the discount without technically changing the base price they're charging me.

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O2

O2 have dodged it already. As of today, new O2 customers are signing a contract that stipulates that the price WILL rise 2.7% per year. Who else will follow?

Well done ofcom, well done.

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Re: O2

If they do it honestly and upfront, that's a good thing. Inflation does happen. There's no reason telcos shouldn't be able to put their prices up. It would be easier if they only did 12 month contracts, but then people wanted to lump £500 handsets in with their contracts, and didn't fancy paying £45 a month on top of their call costs.

If on the other hand they bury it in the small print, and don't put it in big letters at the top, then they're probably in breach of the unfair terms in consumer contracts laws.

Ofcom's job is to make things fair and transparent. It's not their job abolish inflation.

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Contract

Do they give you a readable copy of the full contract in the shop and do you have to initial every clause to prove you have read and understood it?

Anything that says "refer to website" is worthless.

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Re: Contract

"Do they give you a readable copy of the full contract in the shop"

Not if you're joining O2. You do get a copy of the contract to sign and keep, but the print is light grey on coloured paper, and the font is so small that I need a bright light and a magnifying glass to read the fucker. And even then it's ten trillion words because O2 are retards, and can't write a simple, concise contract in plain English, so nobody will read it if they could.

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Unhappy

Re: Contract (@ Ledswinger)

"so nobody will read it "

For the telcos, that's a feature, not a bug.

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Re: Contract (@ Ledswinger)

Can disabilty laws be used to force them to provide a readable copy ?

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