Virgin Media O2 says a study shows UK consumers are being “swindled” by networks charging them for phones they have paid for.
Virgin Media O2 says UK consumers are spending millions of pounds buying their smartphones twice over”.
“Three of the four UK mobile network operators EE, Vodafone, and Three, are continuing to charge millions of customers for their handsets long after customers have finished paying for them”, said a statement from Virgin Media O2.
“Millions of customers tied into classic contracts with EE, Three and Vodafone are at risk of overpaying for smartphones they already own”.
At the time of writing EE, Vodafone and Three had not responded to an invitation from What Mobile to comment on the Virgin Media O2 claim they were overcharging.
Virgin Media O2 says it is the only mobile network operator to discount contracts automatically by putting customers on an airtime plan, once they own the phone.
An online survey conducted by Strand Partners on behalf of Virgin Media O2 analysed responses from 5,303 people.
This showed 93 per cent of users are unaware that being on a bundled phone contract can lead to overpaying for a device. Around 81 per cent said they’d feel ripped off if they discovered they’d overpaid for their phone Fourt four per cent of those out of contract for over a year earn less than £15,000 a year, meaning those on low incomes are being hit hardest
“Three of the four UK mobile network operators EE, Vodafone, and Three, are continuing to charge millions of customers for their handsets long after customers have finished paying for them”
Eighty per cent of consumers in the study felt cheated and believed they should be automatically moved to a cheaper tariff once they pay for their handset. Most were unaware they could be charged for mobile phones they’ve already paid for through their mobile contracts.
“Bamboozled Brits don’t realise they’re being taken for a ride by opaque, confusing and outdated mobile contracts,” said Gareth Turpin, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Media O2.
“Consumers are being kept in the dark about when they’ve paid for their phone so are spending millions of pounds buying their smartphones twice over.
“With millions of customers from other operators stuck on contracts that force them to overpay for their smartphones, all too often in the mistaken belief it will save them money, we’re sounding the alarm on this smartphone swindle.
“Customers who buy from Virgin Media O2 will never overpay for their phone with bills automatically reduced when they’ve paid for their device – it’s simply the right thing to do.”
O2 said it was the first operator 10 years ago to introduce split contracts and automatically reduce customers’ bills once their handset loan had been repaid. Virgin Mobile launched similar plans in 2014 known as Freestyle so most Virgin Media O2 customers now take split contracts.
Citizens Advice reckons customers are spending tens of millions of pounds each month on mobile phones that they already own when out of contract.