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Time to hang up on phone ‘deals’

MP Mary Glindon.
MP Mary Glindon.

Most of us love a good bargain but hate being ripped off. The problem is that it’s not always easy to identify either.

Take mobile phones. It’s becoming less common but the deal was that we paid for both the phone, including the right to upgrade, and also for the cost of using it.

Given that smart phones have more computing capacity than old space craft, they have become very expensive and rolling the costs together rather than paying upfront seemed like a good bargain.

The trouble is that for many it is a dud deal.

The respected Citizens Advice charity says that about four million of us have been charged almost half a billion pounds for mobile phones we have paid for and should already own.

They reckon many are forking out an average of £22 a month in this way and nearly twice that for more sophisticated devices.

Those most in danger of being ripped off include older people. They say three major companies routinely charge customers for phones they have bought and that it is hard for customers to know this.

They say that phone companies should follow others in separating charges for the handset and for calls.

The companies utter warm words but don’t seem in a rush to end a lucrative income stream while the digital minister has made the right noises. But we need firmer action to close down this rip-off and I have tabled a Parliamentary question to advance this.