Finally, consumers will be better protected from huge bills run-up on stolen mobiles, Culture Secretary Maria Miller announced today.
In a major change to the relationship between the consumer and the mobile operators, four mobile companies – EE, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone – have agreed:
- to cap bills on a phone that has been reported lost or stolen
- to stop unexpected mid-contract price rises by ensuring total transparency for consumers at the start of contracts
- to help government in our aim to eliminate roaming charges by 2016
BT, Sky and Talk Talk have also signed up to the agreement.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said:
We are ensuring hardworking families are not hit with shock bills through no fault of their own.
Families can be left struggling if carefully planned budgets are being blown away by unexpected bills from a stolen mobile or a mid-contract price rise.
This agreement with the telecoms companies will deliver real benefits to consumers and help ensure people are not hit with shock bills.
Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said:
Most people now place large parts of their lives on their mobile phones - from friends and loved ones’ numbers, to photos of great nights out. The last thing you need after the hassle of a stolen mobile is to find that someone has used it and landed you with a sky high bill too.
Phone companies have listened to government and to their customers and I welcome their agreement to protect them from unexpected costs and mid-contract price rises.
The aim is for the liability cap on mobiles that are lost or stolen to be in place from spring next year. The cap would work in a similar way to debit and credit cards where there is a £50 liability cap.
Customers will not only have a better understanding of their contract from the outset but they will also have a choice when faced with mid-contract price rises – they can accept it or end the contract without penalty.
The agreement follows the Government’s commitment to work to end roaming charges within the EU, which refers to the additional cost of using a mobile while outside the UK.
We want to make it cost the same to ring Brighton from Barcelona as it does to ring Brighton from Birmingham.