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Haggling can save out-of-contract mobile customers almost £100 a year

Saleha Riaz
·2 min read
Cheerful businessman using smartphone while sitting on sofa at home. Handsome young indian man sitting on couch reading messages on mobile phone. Hispanic guy working from home with cellphone.
Seven in 10 people were offered an upgraded deal when they haggled when their mobile phone contract was up for renewal. Photo: Getty

Mobile customers who haggle for better deals when their phone contracts come to an end could save up to £96 ($131) a year, consumer group Which? revealed.

According to the rules introduced by Ofcom in February last year, telecoms providers must issue end-of-contract notifications (ECNs) warning customers their contract is about to end “to help them avoid eye-watering price hikes and encourage them to shop around for a better deal,” Which? noted.

Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which?, said: “Nearly a year after end-of-contract notifications were introduced, our research shows mobile customers are less likely than broadband or TV customers to act when their contract ends and many are still grossly overpaying on their bills.”

Out-of-contract customers can find their tariff is poor value and in some cases — such as with EE, owned by BT Group (BT-A.L), Three, a CK Hutchison (0001.HK) subsidiary, and Vodafone (VOD.L) — customers may end up being significantly overcharged at the end of a contract or continue to pay for a handset that has already been paid off.

Which? surveyed more than 4,000 Brits in October 2020 to establish how mobile customers behaved when their contracts came to end.

It found that mobile users were most likely to do nothing (13%) when they received an ECN.

READ MORE: Mobile phone operator Three to hike pay-as-you-go roaming charges

Mobile providers are required to inform customers of the best deals they have available in end-of-contract notifications.

A fifth of mobile phone customers (20%) accepted the deal offered, protecting themselves from the worst price increases.

But around a third of those who either haggled for a better deal (33%) or switched providers (35%) when their contract ended, saved an average of £60 a year on their bills. Some even saved as much as £96 a year.

Of those that haggled, seven in 10 (70%) said they were offered an upgraded deal, which meant more data or minutes on their plan.

This is compared to around 55% who were offered an upgraded deal in their end of contract notification.

Around four in 10 (44%) mobile customers who switched after receiving an end of contract notification said they did so because they had found a better deal elsewhere, and a quarter (23%) moved providers because the deal offered by their current provider was too expensive.

To help mobile customers to switch or haggle for a better deal with their current provider, Which? is launching a mobile switching service which offers a way for customers to compare deals across all major networks.

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