Mobile phone stores are 'misleading' on prices, says Which?

 

The vast majority of mobile phone stores are misleading customers about the possibility of price increases on so-called fixed contracts, according to a watchdog.

A mystery shopping investigation by Which? last month found that 82% of staff in the stores it visited gave incorrect information about "fixed" deals, even when asked directly if the price would stay the same for the duration of the contract.

The group visited 39 stores for O2, Orange, Three, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Phones4U and Carphone Warehouse in the Midlands, North West, South, North East and the South East.

All shop assistants, when prompted, claimed that the number of inclusive minutes, texts and data would stay the same throughout the contract.

However the consumer group said that in the past year four of the five main phone operators - Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and Three - had taken advantage of a "hidden clause" allowing them to increase prices on contracts that appeared to be fixed.

Recent Which? research found that 70% of people on fixed contracts did not know that mobile phone companies could increase prices during the length of their contract.

The watchdog, which recently launched the "Fixed Means Fixed" campaign calling on companies to ensure prices and all other aspects of the deal remain unchanged for the full length of the contract, said the practice is potentially netting the industry up to £90 million a year.

It is calling on operators to advertise the possibility of price rises upfront and allow customers to switch contracts without penalty if they do increase.

It has also complained to the regulator Ofcom.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "It's totally unacceptable that people aren't being told the full story about potential price rises when signing up to contracts in mobile phone shops.

"Shockingly, even when we asked directly about price increases, the vast majority of staff denied this could happen.

"There should be no nasty surprises after signing a mobile contract. People must be confident that fixed really does mean fixed."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border