Labour pledges phone bill crackdown


Politics - Labour Party Headshots

Action to a stop mobile phone companies benefiting from an extra £6 billion a year by overcharging customers has been promised by Labour.

Helen Goodman, the shadow culture minister, claimed most households are paying around £100 a year more than they need to for their mobiles, landlines and broadband.

She told The Independent that Labour would introduce changes which would make it easier for consumers to switch contracts and encourage companies to promote their cheapest deals.

"The Government has totally failed to address this and so most people are spending £100 each year more than they need to", she said.

"At a time when family budgets are under pressure this shows how out of touch and careless these ministers are.

"It is extremely difficult for people to manage their bills without proper information and the ability to make straightforward consumer choices."

She referred to research by mobile phone analysis company, Bill Monitor, which found almost three-quarters of mobile phone subscribers were on unsuitable contracts, paying an extra £6 billion a year between them to Britain's four networks.

Labour would scrap the rule which makes the losing provider responsible for arranging a contract switch, which it claims would make it easier for mobile users to change companies and create an incentive for companies to promote their cheapest deals.

Customers would also be able to leave their contract without penalty if companies introduced a price-hike mid-contract.

Mobile phone providers would be forced to alert users when they are close to hitting their allowance of minutes or data, under the proposed changes to Ofcom's power.

Free paper bills would also be introduced, to help households to budget better.