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Shop staff misleading customers on fixed phone contracts

Paul Withers
August 15, 2012

Investigation from Which? finds eight tenths of mobile shop staff are providing customers with inaccurate information about the possibility of price rises

Undercover research carried out by Which? has found that 82 per cent of staff in mobile phone shops it visited misled customers on potential price rises on fixed phone contracts at the point of sale.

The mystery shop was conducted last month in 39 shops across the Midlands, North West, South, North East and South East. The shops were from Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U, as well as from all five major mobile operators.

Over eight tenths of shop staff maintained that the price was fixed even when asked if it would remain the same throughout the length of the contract.

Which? said that recent research it carried out found that 70 per cent of people on fixed contracts didn’t know mobile phone companies could increase prices during the length of their contract.

Which? recently launched the ‘Fixed Means Fixed’ campaign, calling on operators to advertise upfront the possibility of price rises and to allow people to switch contracts without a penalty if prices do rise. So far, the campaign has received almost 20,000 pledges of support from consumers.

In the past year, Which? said all mobile operators except for O2 have taken advantage of a hidden clause that allows them to increase prices on contracts that appear to be ‘fixed’. It added it’s a practice that earns up to £90m a year for the industry.

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 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.”

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