Consumers operate in a wide range of markets, buying goods and services across broad spending categories. Housing and cars are among the most visible markets, because the cost of these big-ticket items is significant to buyers and these economic sectors furnish valuable insight for financial analysts. But major purchases are not the only buys getting attention these days, as consumers react to service and support in other categories, as well. The communications industry, for example, encompasses television services, Internet providers and an increasingly diverse suite of mobile phone options.
As technological advances made mobile communications possible, the market exploded with options for consumers, who flocked to cellular phone opportunities in large numbers. At first, buyers were happy to have service at all, accepting dropped calls and other irregularities as part of the burgeoning mobile phone experience. But today’s users are more sophisticated and savvier than they once were, calling-on communications providers to raise their customer service standards. Just like other items and services you pay for, mobile communications purchases are protected by your rights as a consumer. Take an informed approach to establish the best available terms and avoid problems with your mobile phone service.
Objections are on the Rise
As the playing field broadens for mobile phone customers, so does the possibility of landing with the wrong carrier. Competition among mobile and broadband carriers leads to high stakes, so due diligence is required to avoid anomalies. Unfortunately, more and more people are finding out the hard way – mobile phone options are not all the same.
Complaints about the mobile phone service and contracts are on the rise in UK, where numbers grew by as much as one-fifth last year. Hidden costs, service and customer care are at the heart of the rise, which accounts for more than 19,000 individual communications complaints handled by the Ombudsman Services in 2014.
The problem has grown to a level significant enough to involve consumer groups, which are now calling for better regulation within the market. Citizens Advice, for example is asking for greater consumer protection, to help users avoid poor service and upcharges resulting from lengthy mobile phone contracts. The advice charity points to research indicating cars, home repairs and energy service are the only things people complain about more than their mobile and broadband accounts.
The trend within the industry has moved toward longer contracts, which limits buyers’ options. In some cases, customers cannot even get a signal at home or on the job, yet they’re still held to the terms of their deals. According to the group, the Government could do a better job watching over the industry, which now relies on self-regulation, in many cases.
What to Look for Before You Buy Service
Whether or not Government regulators step in to protect consumers, it is ultimately up to you to make sure you get the best terms from your provider. Consider three central concerns as you compare available plans.
Security – Mobile service providers aren’t currently required to cap charges tallied by thieves, so some customers are at risk of paying for usage beyond their control. And hardware opens the door for data theft too, so fingerprint readers and other security measures should provide effective obstacles against breaches.
Technology – Before you commit to a long-term contract, make sure your prospective provider offers the most current available technology. Significant shares of complaints filed by users are related to faulty headsets and other tech shortcomings.
Service – Each customer has unique mobile phone needs, so service contracts should incorporate a reasonable degree of flexibility. Lengthy contracts, for example, should not lock-in users who find their service doesn’t meet their basic requirements. And poor customer service should not prevent mobile phone clients from cancelling or changing their plans when problems are present.
Competition is fierce within the mobile phone industry, driving prices down and furnishing myriad options for those seeking service. Unfortunately, some users suffer at the hands of disreputable providers and unfair practices. While there is a movement underway to furnish higher levels of consumer protection, your due diligence is the most effective way to stay safe from difficulties in the communications sector.