It used to be that the case that if your phone was lost or stolen and some little toerag ran up a huge bill calling premium numbers or some random far away land then you would liable for the whole amount. In the not to distant future, this will be limited to £100.
A new code of conduct has been agreed by most of the networks, 3, O2, EE, Tesco,Virgin Media and Vodafone have all signed up to it. This code limits contract customers liability to £100 on the proviso that the loss/theft is reported to the network and police within 24 hours of discovering the phone has gone missing. The protection doesn’t apply to pay as you go customers as they only have a limited amount of credit to lose. The different networks have different timescales for putting this into action:
- EE – in the coming weeks
- O2 – by September 2015
- Virgin – by 1st July 2015
- Vodafone – this summer
- Tesco – already cap at £50
- Three – introduced cap in January
- Giffgaff – unknown
The new code of contact also means that mobile operators have to be clearer on out of bundle charges including alerts when users reach data bundle limits or allow them to monitor use. To be fair most networks allow the second part already by use of the network’s own app. Networks need to provide information on how to turn off data roaming and avoid extra charges.
The last point is to allow users to block premium rate numbers and in-app purchases. It’s been possible to bar premium rate numbers by calling the network for a while but blocking in-app purchases is new. I’d imagine this is in reaction to the number of news stories where children have used their parents phones or tablets and bought in game currency, not sure how this will work for standalone tablets or if it will apply at all.
Ed Vaizey, Minister for the digital economy, says:
Protecting hardworking families from shock bills through no fault of their own has been a priority for this government. By working with the mobile operators, we have secured an agreement that will provide consumers with real benefits as well as offer peace of mind.