Last year saw mobile operator Three UK make a clear commitment concerning mid-contract prices rises by telling customers that the “fixed monthly recurring fee from Three will not go up in the minimum term of your contract,” but they now appear to have done a U-turn.
The commitment was originally made in response to Ofcom’s new “guidance” (here), which was intended to prevent broadband, phone and mobile providers from increasing their prices while customers were still within the original contract period (often 12, 18 or 24 month terms).
At the time Ofcom did include one caveat to this, which is that providers would still be able to impose increases based on natural movements in the Retail Price Index (inflation). Never the less some operators, such as Three UK, took a very pro-consumer stance even towards RPI linked adjustments.
A Three UK Spokesperson said (Jan 2014):
“Your fixed monthly recurring fee from Three will not go up in the minimum term of your contract. We support Ofcom’s approach to fixing the price for pay monthly contracts for their duration. We think it’s only fair that customers should have clarity around costs when they sign up to a contract.”
However consumers who take out contracts with Three UK are now being informed that “Each May, your monthly package price will increase by an amount up to the RPI rate, published in the February that year.” Quite a bit different from the original “will not go up” pledge of 2014.
A spokesperson for Three UK clarified to one of our readers, Jooles: “If you take out a new contract or upgrade on or after 29 May 2015, you’ll see the monthly cost of your contract increase annually in line with the RPI. If you’re taking out a new contract or upgrading, these new Ts&Cs will be made clear to you when you enter into your new contract. While the new Ts&Cs are being introduced this year, the first RPI increase will be in May 2016 and you’ll see it from your May bill onwards.”
As it stands the position of Three UK is broadly in line with that of other operators, although Vodafone may still be sticking to their promise.. for now. Suffice to say that price commitments from commercial businesses should always be taken with a pinch of salt because economic reality almost always catches up.
UPDATE 3rd June 2015