Cancel your T-Mobile contract - Ofcom to determine if "further action" needed

25 September 2009

Last week we provided everything you needed to cancel your T-Mobile contract, after the company announced charges for international roaming would increase sharply. We talked you through T-Mobile's own Terms and Conditions that clearly state their roaming service forms part of your contract, and looked at how T-Mobile play with the wording of the terms to deny customers the right to cancel without charge.

Since then, T-Mobile seems to have succeeded sweeping any trouble under the carpet. Nobody is brave enough to take on a mobile phone operator, and why should they be? Who wants to risk their credit rating over a phone contract, even if they are being treated unfairly? Despite both consumer law and Ofcom conditions appearing to back the consumer, T-Mobile are blatantly ignoring it, justifying their decision by stating international roaming is not a core service.

Speaking of Ofcom, let's remind ourselves of the regulator's general condition 9.3 which all mobile operators must adhere to. You'll note it doesn't distinguish between core and non-core services, but considers changes to any condition in a contract:

Where the Communications Provider intends to modify a condition in a contract with a Consumer which is likely to be of material detriment to the Consumer, the Communications Provider shall:

(a) provide the Consumer with at least one month’s notice of its intention detailing the proposed modification; and

(b) inform the Consumer of the ability to terminate the contract without penalty if the proposed modification is not acceptable to the Consumer.

There's nothing whatsoever left to interpretation in that wording. We contacted Ofcom and asked for their thoughts on the matter:

We are aware of the changes to T-Mobile’s roaming charges and we are looking into the matter to determine whether any further action is appropriate. In the meantime, whilst Ofcom does not deal with individual consumer complaints, customers may be interested to know that they can contact Consumer Direct for assistance.

Consumer Direct is the government-funded telephone and online service offering information and advice on consumer issues funded by the Office of Fair Trading and delivered in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards Services. They are able to look at individual consumer complaints.

So Ofcom are already considering an investigation; hopefully if enough customers contact Ofcom and make their feelings known, it'll help the regulator reach the appropriate conclusion. We've drawn up a letter template for you to send, or you can call Ofcom on 0300 123 3333. In the meantime, if you have any communcation from T-Mobile explaining, please let us know in the comments below.


  • Joe B.
    worst network provider out there,
  • Dawid L.
    I have called T-Mobile's CS few days ago in regards to this, the lady was obviously telling me that roaming charges aren't part of my contract. When I have read out T&C definitions that clearly state these charges ARE part of contract and I can indeed cancel it without penalty, then she replied with point 7.1.2 of T&C which says (I don't have a copy of T&C at hand) that T-Mobile has all right to do anything they want with Additional Services, and that point is not the base for free cancellation. That sounded fair to be honest, but that also means there are two mutually exclusive points in T&C that give both sides equal arguments. I've asked to speak to the manager who called me back later on and was slightly more understanding of my point of view, yet still was strong in telling me that I certainly cannot cancel my contract because of this. However, she advised me to call OFCOM (even gave the number) in regards to this in I feel the need. Anyhow, I don't think we can get away with this. Finally I've got £10 off my next bill as a 'goodwill gesture' from that manager lady, which is better than nothing.
  • Paul S.
    That's the whole rub, Dawid. The mutually exclusive points you mention - the fact that T-Mobile has agreed a contract with you that forces you to opt out of rights concerning elements of that contract - it doesn't give T-Mobile an equal argument; consumer law and legislation beats a contract every time. Just read the Ofcom condition above: - is roaming a condition of your contract? The answer is yes. If that condition is modified and means you will suffer material detriment (i.e. your bills are going to increase) should you have the ability to terminate the contract without penalty? According to Ofcom, you should. It doesn't matter what T-Mobile includes or excludes in its own Terms - regulation wins. And that's before you get into consumer law which will talk about a contract that unfairly binds a consumer to it, and this from the OFT: "Any purely discretionary right to set or vary a price after the consumer has become bound to pay is obviously objectionable. That applies particularly to terms allowing the supplier to charge a price on delivery of goods that is not what was quoted to the consumer when the order was placed. It also applies to rights to increase payments under continuing contracts where consumers are ‘captive’ – that is, they have no penalty-free right to cancel… such a clause is particularly open to abuse, because consumers can have no reasonable certainty that the increases imposed on them actually match net cost increases. "A degree of flexibility in pricing may be achieved fairly in the following ways: "Where the level and timing of any price increases are specified (within narrow limits if not precisely) they effectively form part of the agreed price. As such they are acceptable, provided the details are clearly and adequately drawn to the consumer’s attention. "Any kind of variation clause may in principle be fair if consumers are free to escape its effects by ending the contract. To be genuinely free to cancel, they must not be left worse off for having entered the contract, whether by experiencing financial loss (for example, forfeiture of a prepayment) or serious inconvenience, or any other adverse consequences." Again, regulation and law concerns the contract as a whole, not sub-clauses wrapped up in double-speak to confuse the consumer. By the word (and in the spirit) of every legal and regulatory text we've read in the past three weeks, T-Mobile are in the wrong on this. Simply repeating the same claim to customers doesn't make them right, because they appear to be ignoring consumer law and regulation. But until Ofcom investigate or somebody risks taking T-Mobile on, they'll get away with it.
  • Nirave
    Have just started preparing my case with T-mobile. Haven't issued them a letter yet but will ring them up tomorrow and throw A LOT of stuff to them which is all thanks to BW! Let's see how I get on... It could be that if I quote all about contract law to them they may be willing to cancel it there and then in order to save a legal battle they can't win... Seems like they're hoping customers will just accept what they say and maybe if someone puts up a fight, they'll be willing to let that consumer cancel rather than face a large PUBLIC case over it where more people may realise they can cancel as well!
  • Tom
    Ok, I've been reading about this T-Mobile issue in a few various posts. I "was" quite happy with T-Mobile, until they announced they were to merge with Orange. To that end, I would like to be able to cancel my contract and then jump over to Three on PAYG to add flexibility to watch the market evolve. Although Im not sure what will become of Three, since they share transmitter locations with T-Mobile, but are backed off the Orange network. So ... should I raise my objection before the 30 days have elapsed? What happens if the Ofcom decision takes longer than 30 days? Will T-Mobile then tell me that since the 30 days have elapsed, that I'm no longer elibible to cancel? I firmly believe that even though T-Mobile realise there is a legitimate get-out clause, they don't want to risk a mass exodus as happened with Orange a month or so ago! I also completely object to them increasing roaming charges at a time when OFCOM are telling all telco's to reduce their international and roaming charges!

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