Rising consumer complaints about mobile phone operators has led to renewed calls for fairer contracts.
According to watchdog group, Which?, complaints against operators have ranged from objections to price increases midway through a contract to inability to get a signal.
Which? research revealed that four in ten consumers (39%) have resorted to haggling to get a better mobile phone deal. Nearly nine in ten (86%) of them were able to negotiate a better deal, saving over £100 a year or getting extras like a new phone or free minutes.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd (pictured) said: 'We found that mobile providers are offering much better deals to customers who are savvy enough to haggle, which begs the question why they can’t offer more transparent, competitive deals to everyone all the time. It needs to be much easier and free for people to switch and leave their contract.'
Latest figures from telecoms ombudsman CISAS show that the official complaints about mobile phone companies soared by 50% from 1,600 in 2011 to 2,400 in 2012.
Which? has called for a number of measures to address consumer dissatisfaction. They include:
- Easier switching with your SIM unlocked for free once the handset is paid off, and no penalties for leaving a contract after six months.
- Simpler mobile tariffs with handset and service charges separated, and the handset costs automatically dropped once paid off, so consumers are not overpaying.
- Caps on bills set by consumers to give them control over how much they spend and prevent bill shock.
Responding to the Which? research, 02, the least complained about operator , noted that the value it offered its customers extended beyond the core price of its mobile tariffs.