Take Your Pick from a Million Deals

Consumers love their mobiles but when it comes to finding the best deal, they face an overwhelming range of tariffs and patchy information, which means that often, they cannot choose the best match for their needs. Thats the conclusion of an investigation by Consumer Focus, the statutory organisation campaigning for a fair deal for consumers in England, Wales, Scotland, and, for postal services, Northern Ireland.
Consumer Focus carried out an eight-week consultation in March and April 2009 to gather evidence of consumer experience in the Great Britain mobile phone sector.  It received responses from individual consumers, mobile operators and advocacy organisations. The research was conducted by Harris Interactive in the UK among 2013 adults aged 16-64. 
Two thirds of respondents to the survey said there are too many mobile tariffs in the marketplace; three quarters think they should be able to access essential services from a mobile at the same rate as from a landline; and half are unsure whether they would be charged for calling an 0800 number from their mobile.
Millions of people now depend on their mobiles to access an ever growing range of services, yet many have no idea if they are getting good value for money, says Consumer Focus Telecoms Expert, Audrey Gallacher. With 1.3 million deals on the market and packages offering different allocations of voice minutes, text messages and data allowances, as well as bundled deals, it is no wonder consumers are bewildered. As a result, people often end up signing up for an unsuitable package and overspending. Even when consumers shop around for the best deal, the true picture is muddled by hidden costs such as charges for accessing voicemail, for itemised paper bills or for special rate numbers such as 0800 and 0845.
Consumer Focus has identified complex tariffs, poor price transparency and quality of service as key consumer concerns, and says it will work with Ofcom, mobile operators and other organisations to help tackle them. Gaps in mobile network coverage have also been identified as a further pressing problem for consumers, and Consumer Focus plans to support the Communications Consumer Panel in this area.
You can access the full report here.