We strongly recommend consumers take the following steps when purchasing a mobile phone:
- Look at the cost of the handset, the cost of the monthly line rental, and the length of minimum contract period.
- Cashback deals are often tied to packages with high priced line rental which may need to be paid up front, and there are usually strict terms and conditions attached to obtaining the cashback. Read these carefully before signing a contract.
- Most packages come with a number of free minutes and/or texts per month. If the number of free minutes or texts is exceeded within a month period, call charges will be incurred. Factor these into the total cost of purchasing the mobile phone package.
Terms and conditions
- Look particularly at those terms relating to the cancellation of agreement.
- Don't agree to sign a contract you don't understand. Ask for a copy of the contract and read it before you sign it. Some people receive cold calls over the phone; before agreeing, check how much you will have to pay and be aware that what is offered verbally during the call can be difficult to prove later.
- Ask how long the contract is for and what period of notice you have to give if you want to end the contract.
- There is a vast amount of choice in terms of different phones, tariffs and other incentives such as free phone case, hands-free kit etc. Look at the phones and their different features.
- Decide how you intend to use your phone and what you will be using it for. Decide if it's for emergencies or as a replacement for a fixed phone. Find out what the tariff rate is. Many companies offer free minutes, but there may be restrictions as to the time of day you can use them. Estimate how often you will be using the phone and work out the best tariff rate for you. Take care that there are no hidden charges.
Unsolicited or 'cold' calls
- If you are called from a telephone company that sell mobile phones you have certain rights under the Distance Selling Regulations 2000. It allows you to return certain goods within seven days of receiving them, for whatever reason.
What to do if you have a faulty phone
If the phone itself goes wrong, complain to the shop. They may want to send the faulty phone back to the manufacturer or network provider, this is acceptable as long as it is repaired or replaced within a reasonable time. If you are without your phone, make sure you are compensated for any air time period you haven't been able to use.
If the problems are with the service, reception or billing: Contact your network provider.
Contact the company's helpline and register your complaint. Again, ask for compensation or a refund of all or part of your subscription.
Check all your bills carefully. The main companies offer many different schemes and it is easy for the billing to be incorrect. If you find a discrepancy, be prepared to be persistent if initially you don't get a satisfactory response. It is also worthwhile putting your complaint in writing.
OFCOM is the regulator or 'watchdog' for the UK telecommunications industry. If you have any concerns regarding your network provider which you are unable to resolve to your satisfaction, you can report them to OFCOM although they do not deal with individual complaints. OFCOM can be reached by mailing to this address:
2a Southwark Bridge Road
0300 123 3333/ 0207 981 3040
Further Information about their complaint system can be found on their website listed below.
If you are unable to resolve your complaint through the network provider's own complaints procedure you can refer it to an alternative dispute resolution scheme (ADR) which all telecommunication network companies must be members of.
There are two ADR schemes and you will need to check their websites or telephone them to find out which of them the network provider your are in dispute with is a member of.
The contact details are as follows:
PO Box 730
0330 440 1614 / 01925 430049
CISAS (Communications & Internet Services Adjudication Scheme)
24 Angel Gate
0207 520 3827
If you have a consumer complaint regarding a mobile phone, then for clear, practical, consumer advice contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.Last updated 18 January 2013 Print this page