Ofcom have announced further suggested regulation changes due to new European laws taking affect in May 2011. This time it’s relating to the length of contracts consumers can choose from. It’s certainly been noticeable with mobile providers that contracts have been getting longer, and seemingly shorter contracts aren’t available. Ofcom say:
‘The proposed new regulations would require communications providers to ensure that the initial contract a consumer signs up to (and any new contract following an upgrade) is not longer than 24 months, and that both consumers and businesses have the option to subscribe to a contract with a maximum duration of 12 months.
Many providers already offer such contract lengths to consumers. But by making these proposed requirements mandatory, consumers would continue to benefit from short contracts which promote competition and enable customers to switch providers more easily to benefit from better prices and services.’
There’s also been recent talk about automatic renewals of contracts; where a consumer must actively opt out of their current contract with a communications provider otherwise they’ll simply continue as they are, potentially without even knowing it.
As always, Ofcom are keen that the consumer has opportunities to decide on their provider, promoting the competition for their attention - hence the investigation into ensuring this is possible by forcing communication providers to provide the consumer with the opportunity to opt out, rather than waiting for the consumer to come to them to cancel.