From 1 October 2018, Ofcom has advised that all mobile providers must give the option to limit the cost of bills to new customers and to any existing customers who agree to extend their contract or enter into a new contract.
Announced last week by Ofcom, the move covers calls, text and data, but does not cover third party telemedia services, subscriptions or anything else.
“For example,” says Ofcom, “a bill limit does not have to include the full cost of premium rate services (which usually operate on numbers beginning 09, 118, 084, 087 or five or six digit mobile voice and text shortcodes) but it must include your provider’s charge for accessing these services.”
Similarly, a bill limit may not cover certain ‘charge to mobile’ services that allow you to pay for goods and services from app stores, third party publishers and merchants via your phone bill.
“Although they are not required to do so, some providers may choose to include the full cost of premium rate services or ‘charge to mobile’ services within your bill limit,” says Ofcom. “Many providers offer other ways to manage these costs, such as call barring. Consumers should check with their provider what they offer.”
The move, while designed to protect consumers, leaves many holes and does nothing to stop bill shock on the kind of services that usually cause bill shock.
While the move does recognise that people increasingly charge to mobile – with the caveat that the customer needs to take these spends into account when setting any sort of limit and talk to their provider – the move basically is to stop over-spending on calls and texts.
With many people locked into either pay-as-you-go – which is sort of self limiting, once you run out of cash you are out – or contracts that these days include so much free calls, text and data that no one ever maxes out – it seems a move that will likely have no real impact at all.
More on this story as we get it.