Contract expiring? Providers may have to warn you, under new Ofcom proposals

Phone networks, internet service providers and Pay TV platforms could be obliged to warn users when their contract is expiring, according to new Ofcom proposals.

The communications regulator argues that consumers should be told when the minimum term of their contract expires, so they know they’re free to shop for a better deal and avoid potential price hikes.

Ofcom wants providers to send one notification when the end of the term is approaching and another when the contract has actually expired. At this point providers simply roll the contract into a monthly tariff or raise prices because the promotional rate has expired.

The regulator floats the idea that requiring providers to be proactive could give consumers the reminder that more favourable terms may be be out there. It could also encourage consumers to call for a better deal from their existing provider, or negotiate the extension of a promotional rate.

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Ofcom says 26% of Brits don’t know the status of – or are confused by – their landline, Pay TV or broadband contract. The same is true for 15% of mobile customers. The regulator says 20 million customers are currently outside of their minimum contract period, while 10 million people are on deals that will result in a price increase at the end of the term.

“Our view is that providers need to do more to treat their customers fairly, by sending them important information about their services at an appropriate time,” Ofcom writes.

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“This information will help consumers make informed decisions about their current deal, exercise choice, and be protected against unexpected or unwelcome changes – such as price increases at the end of their minimum contract period.”

A consultation period for the proposals begins today and will end on October 9 this year.

Do you think this is a common sense move from Ofcom? Or is it up to consumers to keep tabs on their contract status? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.