Mobile network providers should unlock customers’ handsets for free, when their contract comes to an end, allowing users to benefit from better deals, suggests consumer watchdog Which?
Which?, in a recent research as a part of the Unlock Better Mobile Deals campaign, found that more than 8 in 10 customers (82 percent) of the 2,100 people surveyed think their mobile phones should be unlocked for free.
According to the report, over two-thirds (66 percent) of the customers believe it to be unfair to have mobile phones locked to the provider’s network, while three-quarters (77 percent) think it to be frustrating to have their phones unlocked to use on a different network.
“Mobile phones are an essential part of daily life for many people and consumers shouldn’t be locked into contracts that do not suit their usage,” Which? Executive Director Richard Lloyd said.
“We want to send a message to mobile phone companies that they should help customers get a better deal by alerting people that their contracts are about to end and by unlocking handsets for free.”
The watchdog revealed that over 50 percent of the customers wish to be notified when their contract ends, while around 6 in 10 customers don’t trust mobile network providers to offer a best deal once the contract ends. More than 42 percent of customers think there is a better deal for their usage compared to their current deal.
Which? identified that some providers are charging over £20 as a fee to unlock phones. Currently O2 charges only pay-as-you-go customers a fee of £15 to unlock phones.
O2 defended its decision and said “Pay and Go handsets may be subsidised at point of sale and can be exploited for fraudulent purposes through box breaking,” in a statement to the BBC.
Vodafone levies a £19.99 charge while EE charges £20.42 to unlock devices only after 6 months. Three, on the contrary, has all its devices unlocked since January this year.