O2 is letting its UK customers switch bills every month


A mobile phone contract is a big commitment. You’re signing away two years of your life, committing to sending anywhere between £10 and £60 per month to the phone company. A £60 contract may be a delightful luxury when things are going well, but with the British economy in such a brilliant state, pledging to give away £1,440 over 24 months is a bit of an ask.

O2 thinks it has the answer to this and has today introduced flexible billing. The concept is simple enough that it’s a small wonder nobody has thought of it before. You sign up to a contract, but can increase or reduce it once a month. That means that you can up it when you know you’ll need the extra data (a holiday in a place with no WiFi, say) and reduce it when you don’t (when you’re free to leach off your work’s WiFi). Perhaps more importantly, if financial pressures make that £60 per month contract seem a burden rather than a joy, you can simply knock it down to something more manageable.

“Today’s customers want even greater flexibility and control over what they’re spending,” said O2 CEO Mark Evans explaining the move. “Generation Flex expect more from their services and we believe mobile contracts should be no different.”

There will, presumably, be limits to this generosity. Your phone contract can be broken down into two parts: the cost of the phone, and the cost of the minutes, texts and data. The more expensive plans lean heavily on the phone side of things – so there will doubtless be limits to how much you can reduce the costs if you don’t want a visit from the bailiffs. Still, the offer can be used in conjunction with O2 Refresh, which allows customers to split out the bill from the cost of the handset and upgrade as soon as they’ve paid off the remaining cost of the phone.

“With O2 Refresh customers don’t have to pay for a phone they already own, unlike customers of other networks. Now we’re going even further, offering customers complete flexibility by also giving them the ability to control the amount of data they use and pay for each month,” Evans said.

“Forcing customers to continue to pay for a phone they already own not only hits their pockets but undermines trust and the reputation of the industry. We’d like to see the other operators review their position and follow our lead with transparent tariffs that put customers in control,” he added.

All in all, this is a big improvement – and hopefully, something that other providers will follow. Much better than O2’s last offer – the “free” screen replacement service – which we had plenty of reservations about.

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