Thursday, November 14, 2013

Miller ‘to work with’ phone firms [ 4ut0m0t1v3 ]

Executives of mobile phone companies are meeting Whitehall officials to discuss consumer concerns about prices.

The meeting came amid reports that Prime Minister David Cameron is planning to press communications companies for a better deal for consumers, as part of his effort to regain the initiative on cost-of-living issues from Labour following Ed Miliband’s promise of an energy price freeze.

In September, the Government announced a review intended to improve the transparency of information presented to consumers about their phone bills and prevent nasty shocks from unexpected roaming charges when abroad.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: ” Consumers frequently express anger about roaming charges and hidden price hikes when it comes to their mobile phone bills. We have a highly competitive telecoms industry and want to see these issues addressed.

“These matters will be discussed today in a meeting between DCMS officials and industry officials.”

Labour communications spokeswoman Helen Goodman said: “David Cameron has failed to get a hold of the cost-of-living crisis, and it is the public who are paying the price. This is as true in the area of telephone bills as elsewhere.

“The Government is doing nothing to help people with mobile phone bill shock, nor to make clear what people are actually paying for bundled services. Why has it taken (Culture Secretary) Maria Miller so long to approach the mobile companies, and what action is she going to take to tackle the cost of living?

“Households spend an average of £97.62 per month on telecoms services, including £32.21 on mobile bills and £10.78 on internet. Yet mobile companies are getting £150 million of taxpayers’ money for the Mobile Infrastructure Project, and BT is getting £1.2 billion in public money for their broadband programme. The Government must make sure we are getting the best deal for consumers.”