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UK carriers to cap bills at £100 for stolen phones
Major UK carriers have agreed into introduce a £100 “liability cap” on charges racked up after a customer’s phone is stolen. EE, O2, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone have all signed up to the voluntary agreement, which will offer some protection against huge bills for victims of theft.
Originally, the government had been trying to propose a £50 cap to go into force last spring and there has been some debate as to whether consumers should be liable for any bills at all in cases of theft. In the end, £100 is better than no cap at all. However, in order for the rules to apply, customers must report their phone as stolen to both the carrier and the police within 24 hours of it going missing.
Interestingly, Three already began capping customer bills in January. EE set to follow in a matter of weeks, Virgin’s policy will begin on July 1st, O2 by September, and Vodafone giving a rough time frame of sometime in the summer.
Along with the liability cap, the new “Code of Practise” also obliges carriers to display clear pricing information and to alert consumers as to when they are reaching their data limits. Carriers must also provide clear information on how to avoid expensive roaming charges and the code will see them implement a barring function to protect users against premium rate call services and in-app purchases.
Although generally well received, not everyone believes that the caps are all that helpful. Richard Lloyd from Which? says that the rules “won’t do enough to protect consumers” and calls for a 48 hours time frame to report stolen phones.