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Mobile Phone Users Can Quit Fixed Term Contracts if Prices Change

Consumers can now walk away from a mobile or broadband contract without facing a steep penalty

Consumers can now leave their telephone and internet provider mid-contract if their bills are increased, following a clampdown by regulator Ofcom.

Some providers have been raising charges during fixed-term contracts, which typically span 18 or 24-months, with Ofcom receiving more than 1,000 complaints about the practice.

A total of 10 companies, including Vodafone, BT, Sky and Virgin Media, had put up prices having offered a fixed-price deal when customers took out the contract.

Ofcom has been consulting on how to protect people on contracts from unexpected price rises, with plans proposed in October to enable consumers to move supplier without penalty. These take effect from 23 January.

Providers must give 30 days notice that they are increasing prices, and customers must be able to cancel their contracts during this period without incurring a penalty.

The rules will apply to any new landline, broadband and mobile contract, including some bundled contracts, entered into after this date, and also apply to small businesses of up to 10 employees.

The same applies if the provider reduces the number of minutes or the amount of data provided, rather than actually increasing the charges.

Pay TV will be included if it is part of a package, but not where it is sold on its own.

Claudio Pollack, consumer group director of Ofcom, said: We have reached an important milestone in our work to ensure consumers and small businesses have better protection against unexpected price increases.

EU law meant the regulator was unable to completely ban price rises mid-contract.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: This is good news for mobile phone customers and the 60,000 people who supported our campaign against unfair price rises in fixed contracts. People can now be confident that the price really will be fixed when they sign a mobile contract, or they can walk away without a steep penalty if faced with a hike.

We will be keeping a close eye on the mobile phone industry to make sure it follows this guidance and gives customers clear information about contracts at the point of sale.

Ofcom has also produced a checklist available here to help guide customers on what to consider when they are taking out a new contract.

And do not forget that you can KEEP your existing mobile phone number if you decide to switch mobile phone operators. All you need is your PAC code. Use our handy tool on PACcodes.co.uk to obtain your PAC code.

 

 

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What is a PAC code?

A porting authorisation code, or PAC code, allows you to transfer your existing mobile phone number from to another mobile phone provider so that if you change mobile phone networks you do not have to give everyone a new number... You can keep your existing mobile phone number. The process is termed mobile number portability, or number porting. It's quick, FREE and very easy to do - follow the instructions here for full details on how to port your mobile phone number to a new network provider.

NOTE: You can purchase your new phone contract and then obtain your PAC code. It is not essential to have your PAC code prior to purchasing your new phone. However, you will need your PAC code if you want to keep your existing phone number (i.e. transfer your current number to your new provider). Use our handy tool above to obtain your PAC code.

PAC codes are FREE.

To keep your mobile phone number when switching to another mobile phone network, use our handy tool to obtain your PAC code. Just select your current and new phone provider click OK and you'll receive full instructions for obtaining your PAC code.