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Ofcom consultation on mobile phones “has potential to make a real difference to consumers”, says Citizens Advice

26 Medi 2018

Citizens Advice has responded to Ofcom’s announcement of a consultation into separating the cost of mobile contracts and handsets. Last week the charity published new research that revealed 4 million people in the UK have been charged for phones they already own, paying a total of £490 million extra on their last contracts. Citizens Advice has called for EE, Three and Vodafone to stop this practice.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice said:

“Citizens Advice recently revealed that an estimated 4 million people in the UK have been charged for phones they already own. It’s heartening that Ofcom has now acted to help fix the problem.

“This move has the potential to make a real difference to consumers. However, while greater transparency around pricing would be a step in the right direction, what people really want is not to be charged for products they already own.

“Companies should automatically stop charging people for handsets once they’ve paid them off. Of Ofcom’s proposed solutions, this is the only one that would make sure people aren’t unfairly overcharged.”

Notes to editors

  1. More than 1 in 3 consumers go beyond their minimum contract period. Citizens Advice analysis focused on customers of providers who don’t offer split contracts, leaving 4 million people who were charged for a handset they’d already paid for. On average they spend 6 months after their contract ends and pay on average £22 a month. This means that customers overpaid by £490 million on their last mobile phone contracts alone.
  2. An online survey of 3,030 adults in Great Britain conducted by ComRes for Citizens Advice, 18-25 July 2018.
  3. Analysis conducted by Citizens Advice of over 700 different phone tariffs conducted in August 2017. We examined pay monthly handset-inclusive contracts offered by EE, Three and Vodafone across 12 handsets, and compared it to SIM-only tariffs offered by each provider. The difference between the 2 monthly charges is the monthly loyalty penalty customers pay after their fixed term period ends, unless they move to a cheaper deal. Both Android and iPhone devices were included in the analysis, and the handsets included in the analysis included a spread of recommended retail prices (RRP) - 3 ‘low-range’ handsets (RRP under £300), 5 ‘mid-range’ handsets (RRP £300-£600, and 4 ‘high-range’ handsets (RRP of over £600).
  4. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  5. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit
  7. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  8. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  9. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.