Changes to terms and conditions
Phone and broadband providers can change the terms of a contract so long as they provide a month's notice.
If your provider increases your monthly price beyond what you agreed when you signed up, it should:
(a) give you at least one month's notice of the price rise; and
(b) allow you to exit your contract without penalty if you choose to.
Sometimes your provider might make increase to prices for services which are outside of your regular monthly amount (this could include roaming charges, international calls, calls to Directory Enquiries, premium rate numbers or any other services where you're charged on ‘pay-per-use’ basis).
If this happens then your provider should usually still let you know about these changes but your right to exit your contract without penalty may be more limited. It would still apply if, for example, the proposed increase would be likely to particularly disadvantage you because you regularly call the affected numbers or use the affected services.
If your provider does not give you the right to exit and you think that the price increase will disadvantage you because of your circumstances, or there is some other reason you think you should have the right to cancel, you should raise this with your provider and provide evidence to support your claim.
Some providers have contracts which set out that the monthly prices you pay will increase at certain times during the contract, for example increasing by inflation each year. This should have been made clear to you at the time you signed the contract but check your contract terms if you’re not sure.
Fair and transparent contract terms
Providers are required to make sure that their contract terms are fair and transparent. Ofcom has rules about the type of contract information that should be provided to you before you sign the contract, for example the key charges, the contract length and the procedures for cancelling.
How to complain
If you believe your provider hasn't properly notified you of changes to your terms and conditions, or if you believe an of the terms and conditions in your contract are unfair or weren't made clear to you, contact your provider's customer service department and say you want to make a complaint.
If, after considering your complaint, or after 8 weeks, your provider doesn't resolve the problem, ask them for a deadlock letter. This enables you to take your complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme.
ADRs act as an independent middleman and will examine the case from both sides and reach a decision they think fair. If eight weeks have passed since you first formally complained you can contact the ADR directly.
There are two ADR schemes – Ombudsman Services: Communications, and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS). All service providers must belong to one of the schemes. Your provider will tell you which scheme it is a member of, or you can use our ADR checker.
If you have had problems with the terms and conditions of your phone or broadband contract (whether because they have changed or you believe they are unfair), please let us know by filling out our short monitoring form .
Although Ofcom does not investigate individual complaints, your help in highlighting problems plays a vital part in our work and we may investigate a company if monitoring data reveals a particular problem.