Consumers face ‘an overwhelming range of tariffs and
patchy information’ when it comes to finding the best deal, an investigation by
consumer watchdog Consumer Focus found today (22 October).
Two-thirds of respondents to an online survey
commissioned by the watchdog said there are too many tariffs in the mobile
marketplace, with three quarters saying they should be able to access essential
services from a mobile at the same rate as from a landline.
Complex tariffs, poor price transparency and quality
of service were key concerns identified by Consumer Focus, as well as gaps in
network coverage. The body said it will now work with Ofcom and mobile
operators to tackle the issues.
Consumer Focus telecoms expert, Audrey Gallacher,
said: ‘With 1.3 million deals in the market and packages offering different allocations
of voice minutes, text messages and data allowances, as well as bundled deals,
it is no wonder consumers are bewildered. As a result, people often end up
signing up for unsuitable packages and overspending.
‘Even when consumers shop around for the best deal,
the true picture is muddled by “hidden” costs such as charging for accessing
voicemail, for itemised paper bills or for special rate numbers such as 0800