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The fixed contracts that aren't fixed

Fri 17 Aug, 2012 // Firstnumber Team
mobile phone store

The majority of mobile phone shops are misleading customers, a watchdog has found. A mystery shopping campaign carried out by Which? last month determined that 82% of staff in the stores its representatives visited gave false information on so-called “fixed” deals, even when specifically asked whether the price would remain unchanged for the duration of the contract.

Which? visited 39 stores in the Midlands, North West, North East, South, and South East, representing O2, Three, T-Mobile, Orange, Vodaphone, Carphone Warehouse, and Phones4U.

All shop assistants claimed the number of inclusive minutes, texts and data would remain static until the contract expiry date.

Former research carried out by the watchdog has discovered Vodaphone, Orange, T-Mobile and Three have all taken advantage of “hidden” contract clauses that allow them to increase prices.

Further research also found that 70% of consumers on fixed contracts are unaware that mobile phone operators can hike up prices throughout the duration of their contracts.

This has led to the recent launch of the watchdog's “Fixed Means Fixed” campaign calling on companies to keep prices unchanged, or at the very least advertise the possibility of price rises upfront. Which? has also handed in a complaint to the industry regulator Ofcom.

It is estimated that current practice could be netting the industry £90 million a year.

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