While the majority of broadband, mobile and telephone providers do follow previous guidance on notifying consumers about price rises, the new guidance from Ofcom should hopefully improve the level of notification for consumers and ensure that suppliers are fully aware of a consumers right to cancel the contract.
- Previously if you were in the fixed term period of a contract the supplier could make small price rises without triggering the right to cancel, as of 23rd January any price rise to a core component will trigger the ability for you to end the contract without penalty.
- We believe that if hardware (e.g. YouView box) was supplied as part of the contract, then this may be charged for, or the supplier may simply want it returned if you break contract over a price rise.
- The core components would be for example, voice line rental and/or the broadband subscription.
- Areas exempt could include the price of international calls, but this is not a hard and fast rule, since if you international calls were a key part of the service, e.g. a call bundle then the new rules would apply.
- At least one months notice should be given of any price rises.
- The notification of the price rise should also make it clear that you have a right to terminate the contract.
- If for example the period for inclusive evening calls was changed from 6pm-6am to 8pm-5am, Ofcom consider this the equivalent of a price rise, and thus triggers your ability to exit the contract.thinkbroadband summary of changes
The maximum contract that a consumer should be able to have on a telecommunications product is regulated to 24 months, but a pattern has emerged where upgrades to speeds or other elements of a service are used to tempt people already in contract to extend their contract in return for the improvements at little or no cost. This can result in people being confused about how long they have remaining after one or two upgrades, what we would like providers to do is when notifying their customers of price rises to make it clear what the term left on the contract is.
The best advice is a bit boring, but always read the terms and conditions rather than blindly clicking the acceptance box and it is often worth printing a copy for your records when signing up for long and expensive contracts.