Out-of-contract users paying millions for phones they already own

Despite calls for MNOs to change their ways, users are still being overcharged for their devices, says Citizens Advice.

In October 2017, the organisation reported that customers of EE, Three and Vodafone who had come to the end of their initial contract period, and had not either upgraded to a new device or switched providers, were being charged an average of £22 and as much as £46 per month for devices they now legally owned. The problem was found to be particularly acute among the over 65s.

Citizens Advice’s latest research has now claimed four million people in the UK have been charged for phones they already own, paying a total of £490m extra to their MNOs. Many of these consumers are still unaware they are still paying for their devices due to what it described as a lack of transparency from MNOs.

Typically, it said, a two-year bundled deal – the most common type of pay-monthly contract – contained no information on the effective cost of the phone, and over half of consumers simply assumed bundled contracts were the cheaper option when this was rarely, if ever, the case.

“It is unacceptable that mobile providers are knowingly overcharging customers for phones they already own,” said Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy.

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