UK mobile networks EE, Three and Vodafone are routinely overcharging customers at the end of two-year contracts, according to a report by the consumer group Citizen’s Advice.
The networks are continuing to charge customers full tariffs even after the cost of the smartphone is paid off.
That equates to an overcharging of £22 a month on average for customers who fail to change their contract to SIM-only or upgrade to a new handset after terms of their accord have been fulfilled.
At the high end, customers with top smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 will be stung for an extra £38 a month after the two years have expired. If you have an iPhone 8 256GB the overcharging could be as much as £46 per month, according to Citizen’s Advice.
The consumer group’s CEO Gillian Guy said (via The Register): “Gillian Guy, chief exec of the consumer charity, said: “It is clearly unfair that some phone providers are charging loyal customers for handsets that they have already paid for. It’s especially concerning that older customers are more likely to be stung by this sharp practice.”
Are networks doing enough?
According to the report, the over 65s are most likely to fall victim to the overcharging practices.
In response to the report, EE said it updated customers regularly about their options at the end of their contracts.
A spokesperson said: “We send our customers regular updates about their options before and after they reach the end of their contract, and the vast majority of our customers upgrade to a new phone or move to a SIM-only plan near the end of their contract.”
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Vodafone echoed the sentiment by claiming: “Wherever possible, we contact our customers nearing the end of their contract to offer them a range of options.”
Meanwhile Three suggested the onus was on the customer to change their plans because they’re informed of the date the contract ends when signing up.
A spokesperson said: “We appreciate any feedback to help us improve our processes and are exploring new ways to ensure our customers can get the most out of their mobile phones at a competitive price.”
O2, the only major network not singled out by the Citizens Advice report claimed its rivals were undermining trust in the industry.
A network spokesperson added: “Forcing customers to continue to pay for a phone they already own not only hits their pockets but undermines trust and the reputation of the industry.” It added: “We’d like to see the other operators review their position and follow our lead.”
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