If you’re thinking of signing up to an EE, Vodafone, Three or O2 contract to get a new phone, or are already with one of these carriers and looking to upgrade, then you need to know about a major change that has just kicked in. All mobile providers in the UK will now be required to provide unlocked phones to customers, and also will only be able to offer a maximum contract length of 24 months. This is thanks to new consumer protection measures being enforced at the moment by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, and this will help customers’ bank balances in a number of ways.
By limiting providers to contracts that are a maximum of 24 months (which is the typical industry standard), consumers should avoid having to pay more than they need to before they own a phone outright.
But the real thing that will help customers bank balances is how across the board providers like EE, Vodafone, Three Mobile and O2 need to offer unlocked phones.
An unlocked phone means it can be used on any network, and isn’t tied to any specific network. And if you’ve ever tried to resale a phone, once your contract is finished, you will know that unlocked phones fetch more on the second hand market than locked phones.
For instance, if you’re trying to sell an unlocked iPhone 12 64GB black handset to CeX, then – as long as the phone meets the retailer’s A level condition, you’ll be able to get either £321 cash or a £409 voucher.
But if you’re selling the same handset to CeX, and it’s locked to the EE network, then you’ll instead get £299 in cash or a £381 voucher.
Elsewhere, Ofcom has also put in place other measures that will protect consumers’ wallets.
As ISPreview reported, if a customer of a mobile provider adds an additional service to their package then an operator will no longer be able to extend contract periods of existing services without a user’s consent.
Ofcom has also made sure that blind or vision impaired customers will have equivalent access to information on their communications service.
Customers that need any information from their provider will be able to request this be sent over in the required format, such as large print fonts or braille.
Marketing materials can’t be requested, but information about their service such as price change details or payment reminders can be sent in these formats.
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