Seven mobile phone airtime companies have conceded to government demands to make their contracts more flexible and to write them in plain English.
The companies, which include BT, Cellnet Call Connections, One 2 One and Motorola Tel-co, were among nine suppliers who were warned in June by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to change their contracts or face legal action. Vodafone was the first to change its terms, back in November, but after yesterday?s announcement, Orange is now the only supplier yet to act.
A spokesperson for Orange declined to comment other than to say discussions are continuing with the OFT.
Airtime contracts have attracted more complaints than agreements in any other industry, according to the OFT?s latest 'Unfair Contract Terms Bulletin'. Among the conditions under fire include substantial disconnection charges, lengthy contract periods, and the right to raise prices during the fixed minimum term.
A spokesperson for Motorola Tel-co said contracts and notice periods are lengthy because the airtime companies subsidise the low cost of handsets in the UK. However, Motorola has shortened its contract and notice periods.
John Bridgeman, director general of the OFT, said: ?Some of these contracts have needed substantial overhaul, others need not so much. They are now all much fairer to the consumer and I am particularly glad that all the service providers have turned their backs on swingeing disconnection charges and other penalties.?
Where applicable, the companies have agreed to shorten their notice periods from 90 days to one month, to remove the #50 disconnection charge, introduce change-of-mind periods, and reduce contract periods from 15 months to 12 months.
The move was applauded by the Consumers? Association, which complained to the OFT about the unfair nature of many mobile contracts in 1995.
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