Enforcement programme into in-contract price variation terms

12 December 2023


Programme into Residential phone (fixed-line and mobile) and broadband in-contract price variation terms in consumer contracts entered into between 1 March 2021 and 16 June 2022.
Case opened 1 December 2022
Case closed 12 December 2023

This enforcement programme looked at whether and how phone and broadband providers made in-contract price variation terms prominent and transparent to consumers at the time they entered into their contract. We looked at contracts entered into between 1 March 2021 and 16 June 2022, following which new contract information requirements and guidance were introduced.

We gathered information to assess the steps providers took to make these terms prominent and transparent and examined whether these raise compliance issues under the relevant General Conditions, to determine whether any further action, including enforcement, was required.

Relevant legal provision(s)

General Conditions in force between 1 March 2021 and 16 June 2022, specifically C1.14 to C1.17 (formerly C1.6 to C1.9).

We are today closing our enforcement programme into the prominence and transparency of in-contract price variation terms included in residential phone (fixed-line and mobile) and broadband consumer contracts, entered between 1 March 2021 and 16 June 2022.

We have obtained information from a range of communications providers to examine whether they complied with the relevant General Conditions in force at the time. This includes information about:

  • whether providers made their price variation terms sufficiently prominent and transparent to customers at the time that they agreed to the price; and,
  • if not, whether providers gave customers at least one month’s notice and the right to exit their contract without charge, before applying a price increase.


In almost all instances, providers stated the price variation term at some point during online, phone and face-to-face sales conducted during the relevant period. The amount of information given about the term and the way it was presented varied from provider to provider, but generally providers set out how the price increase would be calculated and when it would apply, before customers agreed to the price.

Stating the price variation term during a sales journey does not, by itself, mean that a term has been made sufficiently prominent and transparent. Throughout the course of this programme, we identified several ways that providers could have communicated their price variation term more clearly to their customers. While we did not consider that these issues required further investigation, we have shared our findings with the relevant providers and have strongly encouraged them to review their current terms and conditions and sales journeys to consider whether any improvements can be made.

In a small number of instances, providers may not have given customers sufficient information about the price variation term during certain sales journeys and did not give those customers at least one month’s notice and the right to exit their contract without charge before applying the price increase, giving rise to potential compliance concerns under the relevant General Conditions. As a result of informal engagement around these concerns, we have secured some remedial action, including refunds for some affected customers. We will continue to engage with providers about any remaining concerns, escalating to separate, targeted enforcement action if necessary.

Looking forward

We are now closing this enforcement programme, which has been looking at providers’ compliance with the rules that were in force between 1 March 2021 and 16 June 2022. The rules changed on 17 June 2022 and communication providers are now required to give relevant customers contract information and contract summary documents, containing key information about the products or services on offer, before the customer enters into a contract.

Ofcom is now consulting on new rules and guidance prohibiting inflation-linked in-contract price rises. Our proposals include new requirements for providers to draw customers’ attention, at the point of sale, to any price rises that are written into contracts. We encourage any interested parties to engage with this consultation.


Enforcement team (enforcement@ofcom.org.uk)

Case reference CW/01264/11/22