Phone providers may soon be forced to tell customers when they’re near the end of their deal.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom is set to introduce end-of-contract notifications for phone and broadband customers.
It says that consumers who do not shop around at the end of their minimum contract period typically pay higher prices than engaged consumers on new contracts featuring a price ‘discount’.
An Ofcom spokesperson explains: “We want to help more people take full advantage of the range of products and deals out there.
“Our in-depth research shows one of the key things people would find useful in helping them shop around is being told when their contract is coming to an end, so we’ll be setting out proposals on this shortly.”
Currently, telecoms firms do not have to tell their customers when their deal is up, meaning many households are paying more for phone and broadband services than they need to.
It is estimated some 15 million households are currently out of contract – equivalent to a third of all customers.
Some 15% of mobile phone customers and 32% of broadband users have stuck with their supplier after their deal has ended, with many not realising their monthly charges have increased.
One in five mobile phone customers does not realise for six months that they are paying more than necessary – by which time it is estimate they will be £228 worse off.
But 89% of customers say that an alert at the end of their deal period would encourage them to find a more suitable or better value service.
Comparison service uSwitch says UK consumers are collectively paying £41 every second in additional charges.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch, says: “The introduction of end-of-contract notifications would finally see the communications industry catch up with others such as insurance and energy.
“While it is not a done deal that Ofcom will implement this, it is one step closer to victory for consumers who deserve to know the facts and shouldn’t be made to jump through hoops.”
It is understood that Ofcom will consult on the details of the proposals in July.