SHOPPERS in West Somerset are being warned by Somerset County Council to be cautious of mobile phone cashback schemes.
People thinking of buying a new mobile phone in the run up to Christmas could be tempted by contracts which appear to suggest that money paid out in monthly phone bills can be reclaimed.
In reality, the complexity of these contracts often leaves the consumer out of pocket, warn county council trading standards officers.
The cashback offer is often a separate contract to the one taken out with the mobile phone company, and the terms and conditions are seldom fully explained to the customer.
The schemes are often complex and inflexible, which can result in the customer being unable to reclaim their money.
The consumer may be asked to post their mobile phone bills to the cashback operator within strict time limits in order to claim their cashback, and are often unable to check whether they have been received.
Concerns have been raised amid reports that operators are withholding payment on the grounds that the paperwork has been ‘lost in the post’.
The county council is advising shoppers to check the terms and conditions carefully before signing up to any cashback schemes and to ensure that all necessary documentation is sent by recorded delivery.
Somerset Trading Standards team group manager Howard Burnett said: “Mobile phone cashback schemes can seem an attractive prospect to shoppers looking to purchase a new mobile phone.
“I would urge consumers to make sure that they read the small print in order to make an informed decision about the best deal for them.”
The council’s community safety portfolio holder, Councillor Henry Hobhouse, said: “We are committed to providing services for a modern society.
“Consumer rights are becoming an increasingly important aspect of everyday life, and the information provided by the council will help local people to be wary of schemes which could leave them out of pocket.”
All terms and conditions in consumer contracts are covered by law.
Anybody with any concerns about terms and conditions, or who would like to check their customer rights should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 or visit http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/.