12/3/2013 10:16:15 AM
Operators sign up to plans to curb shock bills
EE, Three, Vodafone and Virgin Media are working with the government to introduce a possible cap on charges when a mobile is stolen.
While operators cap spending on a device from the moment it is reported as stolen, sometimes consumers can take several days to report it missing. The government is believed to be proposing a £50 cap although operator sources told Mobile there was concern about this figure as it could encourage fraudulent use. The coalition government has been working on trying to reduce household bills amid pressure from Labour.
The government also reiterated plans to protect consumers from mid-contract price rises. Ofcom is currently consulting on the matter although the proposals do not apply to out of bundle spending. Culture secretary Maria Miller said it is working with Ofcom and operators to develop a position where roaming charges can be eliminated by 2016. Miller said: 'We are ensuring hardworking families are not hit with shock bills through no fault of their own. Families can be left struggling if carefully planned budgets are being blown away by unexpected bills from a stolen mobile or a mid-contract price rise.'
O2 is the big omission from the agreement. The operator said it wanted more clarity on the Ofcom proposals for abolishing mid-contract price rises. A spokesperson said: 'We have a track record of delivering for consumers and we welcome any measures that improve transparency, clarity and fairness in consumer contracts. However one area of the Government’s announcement relates to Ofcom’s recently published guidance on ‘price rises in fixed term contracts’. We need clarity on what the guidance means for us and our customers before we can sign up to all the commitments referred to by Government and we have been unable to obtain such clarity from Government or Ofcom at the time of this publication.'