After negotiating with Ofcom, majority of British operators signed a deal about capping stolen phones’ bills, mid-contract price hikes and included a promise to end roaming fees by 2016.
The deal struck between the government and EE, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone (O2 did not decide to take part in it) on December 3 regulates some issues that customers complained about. It is a result of intentions announced in September to improve the consumer experience. The plan tackles such issues as avoiding unexpectedly high bills, contract transparency and invariability, but also getting rid of roaming charges.
First, the operators agreed on establishing a cap for customer liability in case of lost or stolen handset. This will help averting problems like high bills caused by thieves. It expands the services already provided, for example, protecting the customer from the moment the phone is reported as stolen or lost. Mobile operators have not decided yet on the level of the cap and the terms and conditions, but pledged to work on it to be ready to unveil such services in spring 2014.
Second, in the last two years customers were outraged by mid-contract price hikes, that although happened according to the contract, came as a unpleasant surprise to customers. Operators who signed the deal agreed to improve the transparency of mobile phone contracts so that they comply with guidelines presented by Ofcom. Additionally, the providers are considering allowing customers to cancel a contract without any fees should there be a price-hike.
Finally, all major operators (except O2) promised to bring down roaming charges in the EU zone by 2016. However, even now operators are improving their offers by constantly lowering roaming rates and launching services that let customers use their allowances when travelling abroad. Obviously, both the government and the operators see a need to introduce necessary protections to prevent abuse and guarantee that British mobile providers are still willing to invest in networks and providing better mobile coverage.