It would seem, however, that T-Mobile has had something of a change of heart. We are now being informed that the changes will no longer affect existing T-Mobile customers who upgrade after August 15 – only new customers.
This at least is good news. Mind you, we are also being told that changes will be made in the near future that will again include upgrading customers to be included in the new restrictions. Nothing like knowing what’s going on, eh?
Networks back code
The five main mobile networks have agreed to a new Ofcom code of practice on selling mobile contracts.
O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and 3 have agreed to all the points set out in the code and have agreed to police their retail channels according to its recommendations.
The idea is to crack down on mis-selling contracts or upgrades to end users and in particular to put proper controls on the offer of sales incentives such as cashbacks.
From now on, if your company obtains business by means of outbound calls you will have to ensure that your staff are fully trained in all aspects relating to the sale of mobile phones, including making them aware of network and reseller terms and conditions, as well as consumer law and the cancellation process.
As well as having the training side of things sewn up, you will now have to ensure that outbound calls are recorded and that the caller is made aware that you are not calling on behalf of the relevant network. You should not abuse the trust of vulnerable customers, for example those whose first language is not English.
Of course it does beg the question of whether this particular clause works the other way round. Will the sales process be invalidated if the customer cannot understand the seller whose main language is not English? We’ll see.
Any cashback offers made must be fair and straightforward to redeem. For example, copy bills should be allowed rather than insisting on originals and charges cannot be made for processing a cashback claim.
All in all, this new code of conduct is very welcome as it goes a long way to ensuring the industry is seen to be cleaning up its act.
Obviously the networks will start to integrate the code’s compliance into their own trading terms and conditions and with all their various retail sales operations.
I do have some concerns, however. One is the fact that the code suggests that the networks carry out regular checks on resellers to ensure due diligence.
It recommends that the networks carry out credit checks on companies and also carry out credit checks on company directors. This is all fair enough, but isn’t an individual (or company for that matter) supposed to be made aware that they are going to be credit checked?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of networks randomly running credit checks on me without my knowledge. I’m not trying to hide anything, but if all networks took this approach then I could find myself being vetted five times by five different networks, which could play havoc with my personal credit rating.
Apart from this quibble, anything that helps clean up the image of buying a mobile phone gets my backing and approval.
3 goes for data
September will see 3 launch three data tariffs. It will also offer a USB modem that end users can plug directly into their laptop to receive data at up to 2.8mbps.
The USB dongle will be free for existing customers, or cost £29 for new customers on an 18-month contract. The cheapest data tariff will be priced at £10 a month and will include 1GB of monthly data usage. £15 a month will give users 3GB of data a month and £25 a month will provide users with a very respectable 7GB a month.
3 will also launch five handsets that support faster HSDPA data rates.
These are the Nokia 6120, Nokia 6500, Nokia N95, Sony Ericsson W910i and the highly anticipated LG U990 media phone. Users using the mobile phone as an effective data modem will not be penalised, unlike with some other networks.
3 is finally taking full advantage of its pure 3G network and if the HSDPA coverage is good enough then I see 3 being able to take quite a bit of data traffic from other networks.
With data charges and speeds like these is easy to see why there is a growing number of consumers prepared to do away their landline phones altogether. Well done 3.
Jez Harris founded the online Phone Dealer Forum. Email firstname.lastname@example.org