O2 promises end to mobile upgrade rip-off

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o2_logo.gifEver had that feeling, towards the end of your mobile contract, that you could get a much better phone for a lower price if you take advantage of another operator’s introductory offers? Yeah, us too. And this is why millions of mobile users have ‘churned’ between operators.

O2’s aiming to stem the flow from its customer base with a new initiative called Fair Deal. The gist: existing O2 users will be given the same handset and tariff deals as new customers when they come to upgrade. And they’ll also be rewarded with ‘O2 Treats’ for their loyalty.

“We want our customers to be the happiest and most loyal, so we listen to what they want and – crucially – act on what they tell us,” says Sally Cowdry, marketing director at O2 UK.

“They said ‘why shouldn’t existing customers get the same as new ones?’ And they’re absolutely right. All O2 customers should always get the best O2 has to offer, so that’s what we’re giving them. And on top of that, we want to say a big thanks to our customers for their trust and custom, so have something extra from us.”

Of course, this is as much about stopping customers from hightailing it to Vodafone or Orange when their contract’s up as it is about big-hearted generosity. But it’s good news for mobile users, especially if the rival operators follow suit.

Anything that means you don’t have to spend 20 minutes on the phone threatening to cancel in order to secure the same upgrade price on a phone they’ve seen advertised in the paper for free is fine by me.

O2 hasn’t yet given details of what the ‘Treats’ will be, although I’m guessing it might be free stuff, like games or full-track music downloads. Or maybe the CEO will turn up on your doorstep with flowers and a big wet kiss. We’ll have to wait and see.

Stuart Dredge