Virgin Media O2 has launched a new online calculator to help consumers quickly and easily check if they’ve overpaid for their smartphone – potentially saving them hundreds of pounds a year.
Armed with basic information such as their mobile network provider, current device, monthly bill amount and contract start date, individuals will be able to use the calculator to find out exactly how much they could have overpaid in just a few minutes.
The results will then give users the clear information they need to stop overpaying in the future by negotiating a new deal or moving provider.
Gareth Turpin, chief commercial officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “Charging consumers for phones they already own is just plain wrong – yet millions of us are being swindled by other operators that do just this.
“Since we first exposed this issue in May, consumers with other operators have spent more than £100million paying for phones they already own. Now, armed with our new easy-to-use overpayment calculator, we’re putting clear information into consumers’ hands, helping demystify bundled contracts and exposing just how costly they can be if no action is taken.”
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Mr Turpin added: “The other operators could help stop this with three simple steps – provide split mobile plans; introduce automatic roll down to an airtime only plan; and provide clear information once a phone has been paid for.
“We hope they’ll join us in doing the right thing for their customers.”
The launch comes just three months after Virgin Media O2 called on the industry to end what it’s calling the “Smartphone Swindle”. This refers to an investigation carried out by the firm that found three of the four UK mobile network operators were overcharging millions of customers for phones they already own.
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This happens when operators bundle together costs for minutes, texts and data with the cost of the handset and provide customers with a very small discount – if any – at the end of their contract.
The investigation, which took place in April, saw Virgin Media O2 send independent, professional mystery shoppers onto UK highstreets and operator’s websites posing as new customers looking to take out a contract on a new handset. The shoppers found split contracts to be significantly hard to get hold of and instead, were being pushed to sign up for bundled packages.
Virgin Media O2 analysis estimates this is costing millions of consumers across the country over half a billion (£530million) every year with the average person worse off by more than £200 a year.
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While high living costs continue to add pressure on household finances, three-quarters (75 percent) of Britons surveyed by the provider said they are actively looking to save on their mobile phone bill yet over nine in 10 (93 percent) were unaware they could be overpaying for their devices.
After finding out they were at risk of paying over the odds for their handset, eight in 10 (81 percent) reported feeling ripped off by their current provider.
The calculator aims to “put the power back into consumer’s hands” by outlining the potential impact overpaying is having on a person’s finances and then clearly outlining the simple steps they can take to save hundreds of pounds on their mobile phone bill.
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