Ofcom to probe firms over in-contract price hikes
Ofcom has launched an industry-wide probe into how clearly phone and broadband firms explain in-contract price rises.
The regulator said it was concerned that providers may not have been upfront enough about the hikes, which are usually applied in March or April each year.
In particular, it said that following complaints, it believed consumers who took out contracts between 1 March 2021 and 16 June 2022 may not have been given sufficiently clear information. With inflation now at historic highs, some customers have seen large price rises this year, the regulator noted.
Lindsey Fussell, networks and communications group director at Ofcom, said: "As millions of people are having to deal with rising household bills, it is more important than ever that telecoms companies don’t shirk their responsibilities and keep customers fully informed about what they are signing up to."
Ofcom rules state that if a provider includes potential future price rises in a contract, they have to be set out "prominently and transparently" at the point of sale. It strengthened the rules from 17 June 2022, including providing examples of how any price increase will affect the amount paid by the customer.
The regulator will now collect information from a range of providers. Should specific issues be found, it could launch separate investigations into individual firms, it said.