Telecoms customers must be provided with clearer and simpler information before they sign up to a new deal under new rules introduced by the regulator Ofcom, this month.
Customers must now be provided with a short one-page summary of the main contract terms before entering into a contract, including clear examples of how any price increases will affect the price they pay.
This is designed to help people avoid being caught out by surprise price rises, at a time when household budgets are under heavy strain.
The summary must include key information about the speed of the service, price, and the length of the contract. It also requires firms to set out the terms and conditions, should a customer decide to end their contract early.
Customers with disabilities can also request to receive the documents in an accessible format.
Some providers offer deals that include a price rise linked to inflation which takes effect during the contract. However, firms that use this calculation are now required to provide a straightforward example to a customer of how this is likely to affect the price they will pay in pounds and pence.
If the increase uses an inflation index such as CPI or RPI, then providers should use the most recent figure for the example.
Exiting a contract
The new rules also make it easier for customers to exit their contract if a provider makes any changes to their terms which were not agreed when they signed up, and which are not expressly beneficial to the customer.
For instance, if a provider increases the charge for paper billing, those customers who use that service would need to be notified a month in advance about the change and offered the right to exit, penalty free.
In addition, providers will need to notify all customers of an increase in their late payment charge, on the same basis.
This is all good news for telecoms customers, but it is another example of a regulator introducing welcomed consumer protections, but then forgetting to consumers about them.