Ofcom launches probe into bill hikes from mobile phone firms

THE BROADCASTING regulator is investigating mobile phone companies over price hikes, after concerns surfaced about networks raising bills mid-contract without notifying customers.

Ofcom said yesterday that a review into the fairness of contract terms “identified a number of issues with the effectiveness of the current rules with which communications providers have to comply”.

Under current rules, telecoms firms have to warn customers a month in advance of a change in bills that would cause “material detriment” and give them the opportunity to switch networks. However, this material detriment is not clearly defined, with some companies understanding it as anything more than a 10 per cent hike. Orange, T-Mobile and Three have all raised prices this year by between 3.6 and 4.3 per cent.

Ofcom said it had examined 1,644 complaints and had considered evidence from Which?. The advocacy group is running a “Fixed Means Fixed” campaign.

The regulator’s consultation also covers internet, television and phone companies.