Vodafone warns Ofcom proposals could harm UK mobile market

Vodafone has expressed concern at Ofcom proposals to better protect customers from mid-contract price rises, saying the regulator “needs to understand” mobile companies are subject to increases from BT

Vodafone has warned that Ofcom’s plan to allow customers to leave fixed-term contracts without penalty should charges increase could damage the UK’s mobile market.

Ofcom today launched a consultation setting out a range of possible solutions to consumers being harmed from mid-term price hikes.

As well as its proposal that customers should be allowed to leave contracts, the regulator is also asking stakeholders whether consumers should have to actively ‘opt-in’ to any variable price contract.

A Vodafone UK spokesperson said: “We support Ofcom’s desire to give consumers reassurance about the prices that they will pay during their contract, but the regulator’s proposals risk generating significant confusion and potentially increasing the cost of getting a mobile phone contract for millions of people.

“As such they could damage what Ofcom’s own research shows is the best value mobile phone market for consumers anywhere in Europe.”

Vodafone said Ofcom “needs to understand” that mobile phone companies are not solely responsible for the cost of calls and texts.

“We simply do not control many of the charges faced by consumers. They are set by third parties and mobile phone companies have to pass those costs on or they will be subsidising other companies. Prices set by third parties such as BT, include those for directory enquiry services, premium rate and 08 numbers,” the spokesperson said.

“We cannot be held accountable should BT, for example, put up the price of calls to premium rate, 08 or its 118500 numbers. Nor can we be expected to swallow that sort of price rise ourselves.”

Ofcom’s consultation ends in March and the regulator will make a decision in June.

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