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May 29, 2014

Which? crusade for pre-unlocked phones is a cause we can all get behind

Freedom of choice should be the norm.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Consumer rights watchdog Which? has announced it is starting a campaign to get mobile providers to sell unlocked phones as standard.

The group has set up a webpage to promote its efforts, which includes testimony from customers bemoaning the trouble they have had with the issue, as well as an online petition aiming for 20,000 signatures (and at the time of publishing had already attracted 7,949 supporters).

Which? says it wants mobile companies to "proactively help customers get a better deal", after a survey it carried out found that just four in 10 trusted their provider to put them on the best deal for their usage at the end of their contract, and is aiming to send a message to the providers via its petition. It’s a plan that will no doubt get lots of public backing, with consumers now increasingly reluctant to commit to 24 month contracts which tie them to a specific provider.

When these contracts end, customers also have to pay up to get their devices released so that they can move onto a new provider, with only GiffGaff and Three currently offering this service for free.

Virgin told the Guardian that it charged £15.32 to unlock, while Tesco charged £20 within the first 12 months of a contract. Although O2 charged £15 for ‘pay as you go’ users, those with a contract could have it done free of charge at any time.

This latter approach made waves when it was announced last year, and it’s probable that we will see many other operators copying this approach in the future. With the sheer amount of devices on the market increasing every month, who wouldn’t want to try something new every 12 months or less? Hopefully Which?’s petition will be the catalyst towards bringing in a much-needed change in the mobile subscription market.

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