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Three breaks mid-contract price rise promise

Katharine Byrne
3 Jun 2015
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Three changes its pay monthly terms and conditions to allow price increases every May in accordance with inflation

UK mobile network Three has gone back on its mid-contract price rise promise. The pledge, which was originally made last January on the Three UK blog in response to new Ofcom guidelines to prevent broadband, phone and mobile providers from increasing their prices during their original contract period, promised customers that the "fixed monthly recurring fee from Three will not go up in the minimum term of your contract." 

This mirrored Three's then terms and conditions policy, which stated that "the Monthly Charge for your Package is fixed for the Minimum Term of your agreement" for customers who joined or upgraded their contract before 29th May 2015. However, Three has since updated its terms and conditions for pay monthly customers, and anyone who joined or upgraded their handset on or after 29th May 2015 will now be subject to potential price hikes. It reads as follows:

"Each May, your Monthly Charge will increase by an amount up to the January RPI rate (published each February), unless you’re on a SIM plan, in which case your Monthly Charge will remain the same. If the January RPI rate is negative, there will be no change to your Monthly Charge in the relevant year."

That means that over the course of a new 24 month contract, customers could potentially be subject to two price hikes depending on when they signed up - which is quite different to its original promise in 2014.

Speaking to Expert Reviews, a spokesperson from Three UK said, "We know mid-contract price increases are frustrating but as they are still common practice and we operate in one of the most competitive mobile markets in the world, we have reviewed our approach.

"In the present market, we feel re-introducing mid-contract price increases for new contracts signed on or after 29 May is the best way of maintaining investment in our award winning network and of offering benefits which customers really value, like 4G and roaming at no extra cost in 18 countries. We will ensure everyone who enters into a contract with us understands fully how and when the cost of their contract will change."

This brings Three in line with most other UK mobile networks, including Vodafone, O2 and EE, which all state that contracts will be subject to yearly price increases. Meanwhile, Tesco Mobile has re-iterated its promise to keep contracts fixed for the duration of a customer's contract. 

"As a network we believe customers should never have to face unexpected costs," a Tesco Mobile spokesperson told Expert Reviews. "Our Tariff Promise is a commitment never to raise core tariff prices mid-contract, and we’ve offered this for the last three years. There is no reason for a network to break its pledge to customers and we intend to continue honouring our promise.”

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