Vodafone has warned Ofcom's proposals in dealing with mid-contract price rises could cause 'significant confusion and potentially increase the cost' of getting a smartphone.
The regulator outlined a number of options this morning to deal with the increasingly emotive issue of mid-contract price rises. Among those was the possibility of a consumer being able to walk away from their contract without any penalty if an operator was to increase the monthly charge during its course.
A Vodafone spokesman said it supported the regulator's 'desire to give consumers reassurance about the prices that they will pay during their contract'. But he added: 'The regulator's proposals risk generating significant confusion and potentially increasing the cost of getting a mobile phone contract for millions of people. As such they could damage what Ofcom's own research shows is the best value mobile phone market for consumers anywhere in Europe.'
The operator argued it does not have any control over the charges faced by consumers, such as calls to directory enquiry services, which are set by BT. The spokesman said: 'We cannot be held accountable should BT, for example, put up the price of calls to premium rate, 08 or its 118500 numbers. Nor can we be expected to swallow that sort of price rise ourselves.'
The operator intends to cooperate with the consultation but suggested the proposals could lead to new customers paying different prices for different services, depending on which third party has raised its prices. The spokesman said: 'At a time when both the regulator and consumer groups are calling for prices to be simpler to understand, Ofcom's proposals could take the industry back to a time when consumers were faced with a bewildering array of prices for calling different numbers.'
Author: Graeme Neill