End of contract notifications

Around 20 million people in the UK are paying over the odds for their mobile phone, broadband and TV services, according to Ofcom. That’s why end of contract notifications have been brought in. They’re designed to make pricing more transparent and get more people switching to better deals.

Around 20 million people in the UK are paying over the odds for their mobile phone, broadband and TV services, according to Ofcom. That’s why end of contract notifications have been brought in. They’re designed to make pricing more transparent and get more people switching to better deals.

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
4
minute read
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Posted 22 JUNE 2021

Why were end of contract notifications introduced?

End of contract notifications were brought in to help consumers pay fairer prices and feel empowered to shop around for better deals. 

When you sign up for a mobile phone contract, you’re paying a monthly fee in return for a new phone and an airtime plan of calls, texts and data. At the end of a typical 24-month contract, you’ll have paid off the cost of the phone in full. In theory, this should mean you’ll then only pay for your airtime. But networks have historically failed to cut monthly payments even though the handset is fully paid for. As a result, Ofcom says customers have been collectively overpaying by £182 million a year for their mobile phone contracts.

The regulator is now trying to crack down on this culture of overpayment by insisting mobile phone providers make their customers aware of their contract renewal options. 

When will I receive my end of contract notification?

Your mobile provider must get in touch with you between 10 and 40 days before your contract is due to expire. This gives you time to shop around if you want to look for a new deal. 

Changing plans means you can choose a different smartphone and take advantage of any added benefits that might come with it.

If you choose to stay with your existing provider but remain out of contract, they’ll still need to contact you once a year to remind you that you're entitled to switch.

What information will I get in my end of contract notification?

The rules state that before the end of your mobile phone contract, you must be told:

  • How much you’re paying for your current contract
  • The date your current phone contract will end
  • The new price you’ll be paying once your contract ends (if you do nothing)
  • Your provider’s best deals, including any prices only available to new customers (this is so you can see if you’re losing out)
  • How much notice you have to give to end your contract (if any)
  • Details about the services you receive, including handset costs and whether cancelling could affect any other services you receive from the provider
  • How to cancel the contract

How will I get my end of contract notification?

Your provider will get in touch with you, either by letter, email or text message. You should have already given a preferred method of communication for receiving bills and correspondence when you set up your account.

Don’t just ignore messages from your provider as you could end up missing an important piece of information.

What are the benefits of end of contract notifications?

End of contract notifications are useful because they can help you make informed decisions and they remind you that the time has come to shop around for a better deal. And when more customers shop around, deals are likely to become even more competitive.

Frequently asked questions

What will happen with end of contract notifications going forward?

It remains to be seen just how effective end of contract notifications will be in stopping people overpaying for their mobile phone, as it’s still a relatively new regulation. 

But Ofcom says it’ll analyse what kind of impact the notifications have by gathering information from providers and carrying out customer research. It’ll also look at whether any improvements can be made in how providers apply the rules.

Anyone who thinks the new rules haven’t been followed should firstly contact their provider. They can then speak to the regulator if they don’t feel their complaint has been dealt with satisfactorily. 

What if I was charged too much for my phone contract?

You may have found that you’ve been paying way too much for your mobile phone for far too long. In the past, providers were not forced to make you aware there could be a cheaper deal elsewhere. So, unfortunately, you won’t be able to claim a refund unless there was an error on your bill.

Ofcom’s measures are designed to ensure overcharging doesn’t happen in the future, rather than to fix past mistakes. If your provider has been overcharging you, your best course of action is to switch and let your provider know why.

How do I find out when my phone contract ends?

You can check whether you’re in or out of contract by asking your provider, checking a bill or logging into your account online.  

Go to the Ofcom page to find how to check your contract end date for providers including O2, EE, Vodafone, Three and Virgin Mobile.

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