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VODAFONE UK: RESPONSE TO OFCOM CONSULTATION ON CONTRACT PRICING

     (The following press release from Vodafone U.K. was received by e-mail. It 
was not confirmed by the sender.) 
03 January 2013  
In case you are looking at Ofcom's announcement about its consultation
on fixed-term contracts, here is the official statement from a Vodafone
UK spokesperson: 
"We support Ofcom's desire to give consumers reassurance about the
prices that they will pay during their contract, but the regulator's
proposals risk generating significant confusion and potentially
increasing the cost of getting a mobile phone contract for millions of
people. As such they could damage what Ofcom's own research shows is the
best value mobile phone market for consumers anywhere in Europe.  
We believe there is work to be done to ensure that customers understand
the need for long-term contracts and to ensure they are protected during
that time, but Ofcom first needs to understand the difference between
the prices that are set by mobile phone companies and those which are
not. 
We simply do not control many of the charges faced by consumers. They
are set by third parties and mobile phone companies have to pass those
costs on or they will be subsidising other companies. Prices set by
third parties such as BT, include those for directory enquiry services,
premium rate and 08 numbers. Yet Ofcom appears resolved to introduce
measures that would effectively prevent any rises in these prices being
recouped while customers are still in contract.  
We cannot be held accountable should BT, for example, put up the price
of calls to premium rate, 08 or its 118500 numbers. Nor can we be
expected to swallow that sort of price rise ourselves. 
Under Ofcom's proposals new customers, meanwhile, could find themselves
paying different prices for different services depending on which third
party has recently increased its prices. At a time when both the
regulator and consumer groups are calling for prices to be simpler to
understand, Ofcom's proposals could take the industry back to a time
when consumers were faced with a bewildering array of prices for calling
different numbers. 
Ofcom itself admits that if its proposals are carried out, they could
result in the up-front cost of using a mobile phone actually increasing
as mobile phone operators will have to try and second guess what price
increases third parties will attempt to introduce. 
As this is the start of a consultation on the issue we will of course be
engaging with Ofcom to see how they intend to prevent price gouging by
third parties, widespread consumer confusion about prices and increases
in the up-front cost of getting a phone.  
We can then move to a solution that rightly protects consumers by giving
them a clear understanding of price and contract commitments which we
are sure both the regulator and consumer groups want to see happen." 
If you have any more questions, please call Richard Wray on 07974 918416 
Ends 
Lulu Bridges, Director 
Tavistock Communications 
131 Finsbury Pavement 
London, EC2A 1NT 
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