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					Trading Standards
Consumer Guidance
Mobile Phones

Mobile phones never used to be problematic, however, the options open to consumers now are
numerous and often complex. Cashback deals offers its own set of problems for consumers and
there are also other issues relating to mobile phones such as network providers just disappearing,
the issue of cancellation rights when you are offered an upgrade by your supplier and people being
‘slammed’. This is where consumers find they are suddenly connected to a new network provider
without their explicit permission.

What is a mobile phone cashback scheme?
Problems with mobile phone cashback schemes featured in the mainstream press at the end of
2007. People were being enticed by mobile phone retailers to enter into high value contracts with
the enticement of cashback at certain points throughout the term/duration of the contract. With
there being roughly 6 million more mobile phone contracts in existence than there are individuals in
the UK, some people have two or even three mobile phone contracts and with constantly
increasing costs in every area of life, the promise of cashback with these contracts seems like a
good idea. So how can you tell what is a cashback deal?

 You are given incentives such as pay £40 a month line rental - then claim a certain percentage
  of your line rental back
 The schemes are usually offered by the retailer – and the retailer is not always the same as the
  network provider
 You usually have to send original statements to the retailer, which show that you have been
  connected to a network for a certain period time, i.e. your 4th and 6th monthly statements.

What should I do if the trader will not honour my cashback agreement?
As many people have discovered to their detriment, being offered cashback and actually receiving
it can be two very different things The first thing you need to do is to check that you understand the
terms and conditions being given to you at the point of sale. Many companies write extremely
complex terms and conditions which make it impossible for the average consumer to work out how
to claim their cashback properly and so the retailers reject your claim when you try to make it.
However if you have managed to work out the terms and conditions and have sent all your relevant
paperwork to the retailer and still find your cashback claim rejected then follow the steps below:

 Send a recorded delivery letter to the retailer, detailing your complaint, giving 14 days to reply
  and make sure you keep a copy.
 If the retailer refuses to honour your cashback claim or does not reply, then contact your
  network provider.

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 If your network provider refuses to help, then contact the regulatory body that governs your
  network provider. It will be either OTELO – the Office of Telecommunications Ombudsman
  ( ), telephone number 0330 440 1614 or CISAS – the Communications and
  Internet Services Adjudication Scheme ( telephone number 020 7520 3814.

Can I cancel my network contract if I do not receive my cashback?
The short answer is no. A mobile phone cashback agreement and your agreement for the provision
of your network are two different contracts.

 It is the retailer who usually offers cashback and in the majority of cases they will be separate
  from your network provider.
 You may be risking court action and damaging your credit rating if you do cease payments.
 In the rare situation where the network provider is the same as the retailer and they cease
  trading you will need to contract any known administrators of the company’s account, with
  regard to your cashback scheme.
 With regard to the payment of your airtime, you should contact the regulatory bodies stated

What happens if my retailer goes out of business?
It is rare for a network provider to go out of business; it will normally be the retailer who sold you
the telephone who will go out of business. If this happens the following points should apply:

 If the retailer goes out of business then it should only affect you seeking remedy for a faulty
  handset and not the provision of your airtime.
 It will affect the provision of your cashback, as the retailer and not the network provider
  generally offer any cashback deals.
 If you are waiting for a cashback claim to be honoured and the retailer has gone out of business
  you should approach your network provider and see if they are prepared to offer you any
  reductions on the cost of your monthly charges.
 However the most important thing to remember is that if you think you could not afford the
  monthly charges without the cashback, then do not enter into the contract in the first place.

What is the role of OFCOM?
In 2007 Ofcom developed a voluntary code of practice, which many of the large mobile phone
network providers signed up to. The aim of the code of practice was to place responsibility onto
network providers for the cashback offers that were being offered by numerous retailers and to try
and reduce the level of complaints that were being received by OFCOM about cashback schemes.
The voluntary code of practice however did not work and the number of complaints continued to
increase. Therefore OFCOM conducted a consultation exercise on new proposals to reduce the
level of complaints. Their consultation ended on 29 th April 08 and proposals to improve the
management of cashback offers and other issues such as mis-selling by retailers and network
providers in the future. It is hoped that these new conditions will be in place by summer 2008. For
more information please visit their website at or telephone their enquiry line on
020 79813040.

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I’ve tried to cancel my mobile phone agreement but I’ve been transferred to
another supplier instead? What can I do now?
This practice of transferring you to a different supplier is known as ‘slamming’. This practice is more
common amongst broadband supplier and landline telephones companies – but it has been known
to occur with mobile phone contracts as well. In the rare event that this does occur follow these

 Contact your original supplier in writing and ask them to confirm that they have transferred your
  details to another supplier
 Contact the new company that you have been transferred to and ask them to confirm that they
  will cancel any contract in existence.
 As you did not legally agree to a contract being provided by them, request written confirmation
  that the contract has been cancelled.
 Should the company refuse to cancel your contract, you will need to find out which arbitration
  body they belong to – either OTELO or CISAS and make a complaint to this body to resolve the
  issue for you.
 You may also wish to complain to the Office of the Information Commissioner, who deals with
  data protection issues regarding the transfer of your personal information without your consent.
 You can contact them via telephone on 08456 30 60 60 or you can visit their website at

And last but not least… the cost of using your mobile phone abroad.
We have all experienced the shock of getting a statement after using our mobile abroad, and
wondering how it cost so much to make a call, or even receive a call on our mobile whilst in
another country. There is now good news for consumers, in that as of June 2007 the European
Union has introduced lower call costs for mobiles. So what does this mean for you?

 The regulations have introduced a standard Euro Tariff for all calls made and received within
  the EU on a mobile phone.
 This tariff applies irrespective of your network provider
 You can be charged no more than 49 Euro cents (approx 38p inc VAT) per minute to make a
  call within the EU.
 You can be charged no more than 24 Euro cents (approx 19p inc VAT) per minute to receive a
  call within the EU. These costs are still higher than the cost of calls made within the UK .
 All network providers that provide international calls are required to send you a text message
  whenever you cross a country border advising you of the cost of making and receiving a call on
  your mobile.
 If you travel to the EU on a regular basis, you may already have a tariff agreed with your
  network provider that offers a better rate than the Euro Tariff. Your agreed rate should not be
  affected by the introduction of the Euro Tariff unless you specifically request it.

  This leaflet is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended for guidance only. Should you
require any further assistance on these, or other consumer advice matters please contact Consumer Direct,
a Government funded agency that provides initial advice. They can be called on 08454 04 05 06. If you are
  an Ealing resident, it is quite likely that your enquiry will be passed to Ealing Trading Standards for more
                                                   detailed advice.

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