Which? campaigns for better mobile deals, no more locked handsets

You know how mobile networks lock handsets? Consumer advocate Which? wants them to knock that nonsense off, as well as start actively trying to help you find the best deal.

Better deals and unlocked handsets. That's the gist of the consumer champions Which?'s latest campaign.

The group believes that mobile networks should let you know when you contract is coming to an end a month before it expires, and tell you about other deals that might better suit your lifestyle or save you some cash.

It also says that handsets should be unlocked at the end of pay-monthly contracts, and unlocked right from the start in pay-as-you-go deals.

Which? came to this conclusion following a study of over 2,000 adults in the UK, which found that only four in 10 trust their network to find the best deal for them at the end of their contract.

What's more, one in 10 said they weren't sure whether the contract they'd taken out was the best one for them, and around four in 10 think there's probably a better deal out there for them.

More than half of the folks Which? quizzed said they'd like their network to let them know when their contract was coming to an end, but the majority still don't do this. However, over three-quarters said if they got that information, they'd put more time into finding a better deal. Which is presumably why networks don't do it.

Another thing that stops people making the switch is that many networks charge people to unlock their handsets. Two-thirds of those surveyed believe it's unfair phones are locked to a particular network, and even more find it frustrating that they have to unlock a handset. More than four-fifths think networks should unlock handsets once their contract expires - without charging them for the privilege.

Here at broadbandchoices, we think that's right on the money. Locking handsets - particularly when picked up for close to top whack as part of a pay-as-you-go plan - benefits nobody except networks.

We're also greatly in favour of being told when your contract is up. Finding a better deal isn't difficult or particularly time consuming - in fact, it's one of the reasons comparison sites exist. By comparing all your options, it's easy to find a tariff that better suits your usage - either with the same network, or another one.

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