UK mobile customers allowed to leave contract early if prices increase

UK mobile customers allowed to leave contract early if prices increase
By DJ Reyes on 23 Jan 2014 02:34 am EST

In the past couple of years, there have been some U.K. carriers who have increased the price of customers' monthly payments even when they are still within a contract. It happened to me during my time with Orange and I know others who took to Twitter and other social networks to complain when Vodafone increased their prices. From today, that will change. In a bid to protect consumers from these mid-contract price hikes, Ofcom, the U.K's communications industry regulator, has stepped in and laid out new guidelines that will allow customers to terminate their contract without penalty if their carrier increases their monthly payments.

While the price increases weren't that high, many did not believe it to be fair that prices could be increased from their original agreement while still in their contract period. Ofcom reviewed all complaints made from June 2012 to August 2013 regarding monthly price increases and ruled in favor of the consumers.

This is definitely welcome news. I'm sure there are many who have fallen under these prices increases so I'm glad that this has taken effect. One thing to note about this ruling, though, is that it only applies to contracts taken out from today. So, for those of us still in contract, we're not going anywhere. Here's hoping there won't be any price hikes in the meantime. It's a good move and definitely a step in the right direction.

Read the full Ofcom guidelines

Topics: Carriers

Reader comments

UK mobile customers allowed to leave contract early if prices increase


Nice. That's why I left rogers in Canada. Had to sue also for breach of contract. A contract is a binding agreement. Rogers lost. David vs Goliath

Posted via CB10

I think it's time you change your signature...or are you really Prem Watsa?

Keep The Faith  BlackBerry Q10 

Good for you. Even though this article seems like good news I still think it's a crumb of a win. A contract is a contract, if they can change whatever they want about it why can't we?
I had no idea phone companies did this, it's criminal. And I think the new ruling is an insult to the people that fought for this to be changed only to be left out.
If only more people took legal action...

Posted via CB10

And if any US carrier were to do this, it would be Tmobile. Good news for the peeps out there.

Nexus 5...enough said

About time. Three did it to me and then orange. As a consumer you don't have the right to change any part of the agreement, so why should the vendors be able too. Price increases should only apply to new customers. This is good news:-)

Posted via CB10

I had no idea this was at all possible.

Looks like our Telecommunications Ombudsman here in Australia does a terrific job.

Any dramas, you just ring up and the carrier gets a slap on their wrist. Only thing you have to do is to state that you have been trying to resolve the issue with the carrier, but it was unfruitful. Works like a charm.

My name is Prem, I'm using BBM ... from my QuZe10 ...whatarhyme...

In Belgium the recent regulation policy changed as well! Consumer wins in this case :)

C0038297E Quote of the Day (BBM Channel)

Hasn't this always been on the small print?
-> at least for O2 I believe there was a provision that you could leave early of the contract was changed by them.
(They did about a year ago by 50 pence - I have since left their overpriced offerings - after my 2 year contract was up - for something more enticing - specifically T-Mobile)

Posted via CB10

Pretty sure you're on the right track. I do remember reading something along those lines to do with O2 about being able to terminate early due to a price increase.

Posted via CB10 on my SwagBerry

It was possible because contracts tend to stipulate that the provider has the right to make changes to the contract regarding price etc si long as they give you X amount of time of notice.

The truth is though that any change in the contract can be construed as an offer of a new contract that voids the original one. The new offer of a contract can then be rejected and I think this is basically what offcom are backing up.

Posted via CB10

Yes, sort of - many of the original Orange (UK) contracts had a clause stating that the prices could be raised a certain amount throughout the period of the contract - and other phone companies had the same clauses (though I can't remember which other UK companies they were)

In 20 years with Orange, they never raised, or tried to raise, the price of my phone contracts

The historic reason why these clauses were put in the phone contracts is that the UK has had very high annual price inflation in the last 30-40 years ( - over 25% in the 70's, and over 15% in the 80's

I believe that many other countries that have more recent issues with high inflation, have similar inflation-concern-driven price-rising-clauses in their mobile phone contracts too

There must be a clause in it that if you choose to terminate a contract for that reason that you will still be liable to pay for any handset discount that was attached.

I can't imagine that if I took out a contract that includes a free device (as the cost of the device is incorporated into the tariff) and they decide to raise the monthly cost, that you would be able to leave the contract and keep the phone?

Posted via CB10

I doubt it. Then nothing would change. I am sure they will not try to push an increase on someone within the first 18 months, knowing that it will take time to get the phone's ROI. And I'm sure they will be reviewing their plans and adjusting accordingly for all new contracts going forward to legally bury the cost of this law.

Posted via CB10

Capitalism and competition is for the consumer first.

Corporatism , cartels and Price Fixing is for the consumer last.

I just wish the US and UK government would look into the business practices of Carriers regarding the treatment of BlackBerry.

This is what is going to happen in the near future, all these carriers will be too busy chasing the same customers with Apple, Android and Windows and forget about BlackBerry. One of those carriers will wake up and find themselves out of business.

When you have too many companies chasing the same customers someone will fall but the wayside.

Be exceptional and different, be the first to stock the Z30 and the new devices coming from BlackBerry and Foxconn.

Ride the wave....

BlackBerry...Get it done!!!

Posted via CB10

The geniuses at Orange did this to me. Raised line rental by £1.50 six months before end of contract. I'll give you one guess what happened after six months.

Now have a Z10 on giffgaff, like any sane person.

Posted via CB10

Pretty impressed with this. I got my new contract with O2 last January, for a Z10 and then in March, they increased it. Pretty annoyed!

Posted via CB10

What would it men to a consumer where the contract doesn't go up, but the prices of usage out is your limits does go up?

Vodafone for instance have raised prices outside your contract limits, but if you are worse off by 10% then you can leave penalty free.

Posted via CB10

Is that true? I changed my land line/ broadband/tv provider from sky to virgin last year and 3 months later virgin wrote to say they were increasing their price even though I'd signed a years contract with them. I was surprised that they could do that -It wasn't by a lot but that's not the point!

Posted via CB10

After reading the contract closer with Verizon I'm sure that they can raise prices too. They charge this add on pork fee, it's for nothing really it's just an extra percentage you pay for the privilege of being on the Verizon network. Since that percentage isn't part of the contract or tied to any actual service I would bet it could go up at any time.

Posted via CB10

This has always been the case. Under EU law if t&c's of plans change while you're under contract you're entitled to leave the contract without penalty. That's why networks don't change T&C's much anymore for fear of loosing customers.

Posted via CB10

I'd expect prices for those who aren't benefitting from this ruling to rise at a higher pace to offset it. Because they can.


Posted from my brain to your screen via CBQ10

Pretty disgraceful that O2 have done this. Actually I leave them tomorrow so not too bothered. I'm pretty sure everyone else will follow suit.
The law that was passed should have anticipated this and worded the law so it couldn't be done. Makes a mockery of the money spent to pass this law.

Posted via CB10

Generally the UK (and other parts of Europe) have the strongest consumer protection in the world - note: we also usually have significantly higher prices than North America

Yeah that's not legal no matter how it gets sliced. Finally the people win something instead of getting screwed.

Posted via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA  ‎BlackBerry Q10...SON!

Isn't the whole point of a contract to lock in the current rate/deal for the length of the contract? Seems they should not be allowed to change the terms at all.

Posted via CB10

Good for you guys!!!

A contract is a contract, and you vacancies be damn sure the carriers would come after you if you breached your contract with them w/o penalties.

Posted via CB10 on a Z10STL100-3/

I was just advised now that o2 will increase my tariff in March, so I guess the search is on I have to decide if I will stay with o2

My solution? Buy devices outright, no contract. But in Canada, they make you give 30 days notice, so you have to pay for a full month of service if you switch carriers... if you want to keep your number you pay a full month's extra plan fee... so be sure to LOWER YOUR PLAN 2 days before you switch so you're on a super cheap limited plan THEN switch.

It's criminal: my momma would call taking money from someone without providing goods or services "stealing" but in Canada, it's called "the fine print". Bastarbs.

Hi there,

I've just had an email from O2 UK saying due to RPI increases my tariff will increase by £1.05 per month! I have 2 contracts and trying to save money at the moment, this won't help.

Can I cancel my contract as they've changed my agreement?!

Depends when they put it up. If it was in the last 30 days then given Ofcom's new ruling I think you stand a very good chance. I know it is only intended for contracts taken out after 23rd Jan 2014, but if you think about it they have not changed any laws, they have just clarified the definition of material detriment, "too any change" - so the meaning of the words can't be different depending on the date of the contract. Regardless of when O2 wrote to you, you should be able to have the price increase sum refunded - I won 2 cases against Orange that these clauses are illegal.

For full details see the MSE forum -" Mobile Phone Contract - Price Rise Refunds"
If you review back on that thread you wil see someone is currently pursuing this very issue with O2.