Cheap mobile phone deals lure customers into three-year contracts

Caroline Cassidy

With the astonishing array of tariff options available these days, it's often tempting to opt for the cheapest monthly bills when the time comes to upgrade your mobile phone.

Mobile phone deals lure customers into contracts
Mobile phone deals lure customers into contracts

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But the phone companies are no mugs and these cheaper bills come at a price, with some customers finding themselves locked in to a three-year contract with their chosen supplier.

Information compiled by price comparison site found that the 12-month contract is no longer the norm and there has been a significant rise in the number of 24-month and 36-month alternatives.

And consumers who are lured by cheaper monthly bills often find themselves trapped by an expensive "buy-out" clause should they wish to change contracts.

Yesterday, experts warned that many will find themselves with mobile phone contracts they cannot afford, as the threat of redundancy, potential drop in salary and soaring household bills hit home.

It is thought the trend has been triggered by the ever-growing popularity of smartphones, some of which would cost £600 to buy, thereby pushing consumers into contracts in order to keep up with the tech.

The uSwitch data revealed that just 279 12-month contracts are now available, compared to 676,000 18-month deals, and 939,000 24-month contracts.

Meanwhile, the 36-month contract is making stealthy progress and there are now 3,300 on the market.

Ernest Doku, from, told the Daily Mail: "We've seen a clear trend in the market that is seeing consumers being forced into taking out longer-term mobile phone contracts.

"It doesn't take a genius to see where the market is going, or to work out the fact that it's not necessarily in the best interests of the consumer."

However, the EU is likely to stop the 36-month contract in its tracks - legislation expected to come into force in May will insist that mobile phone companies offer a 12-month option.

What do you think? Have you been tied into a long contract and found it difficult to switch? Let us know below...