Communications markets offer consumers a wide and expanding array of products and services. We want consumers to be able to take advantage of the choice available, shop around with confidence, and ultimately secure the best deals for their needs – whether that means negotiating a new deal with their current provider, or switching to a new provider.
Many consumers benefit from the wide choice of services on offer by engaging with the market, but a significant number do not. They may not know when to review their existing deal, lack the confidence or ability to identify the best deals for their needs, and/or be deterred from taking these deals up. 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’.
So, in July 2017, we published a Call for Inputs launching a programme of work to help us better understand why some consumers may face difficulties engaging in communications markets; and to help us identify, develop and implement solutions that help consumers to engage.
We received a number of responses to our Call for Inputs and are taking these into account as we progress our work.
We commissioned research to help us better understand why some consumers do not engage fully with communications markets (for example – explore their options, or sign up to a new deal/product with their existing or another provider), and why some do not engage at all. Today we have published the qualitative research report, and data from the quantitative research study:
We have decided to phase our work on consumer engagement. Initially, we are focusing on “end of contract notifications” – whereby providers would proactively inform customers when they are approaching or are at the end of their minimum contractual term. We aim to consult on proposals in July 2018 and will publish more detailed analysis of our quantitative research along with this.
Our current work also includes looking at the issue of mobile customers continuing to pay the same price after the end of their minimum contract period, where the price reflects the cost of their mobile handset. We are considering appropriate next steps and engaging with mobile providers on this.
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