Beware of free line rentals terms in your mobile phone contract
Are you attracted to the free line rental mobile phone contract offers ? What's the cache ? Do you really gain ?
As you might be aware, almost all the 6, 9, or 12 month free line rental offers work on a redemption formula. Which means, you pay the regular line rental upfront and then claim redemption from time to time half yearly or quarterly as was agreed with the seller.
Personally, I have been on such a contract for over three years now. I've got back my money on one occassion. This was because I was personally present to keep track of the bills and made sure that I sent them across for redemption.
The second one is hanging in balance. The third is uncertain as I'm out of the UK and desperately trying to arrange to send the claim form with the bills to the seller.
To understand this, you should look carefully at the terms and conditions of cash back or redemtion offers. The small print is what you should be careful read and understand.
One of my contracts was with THREE. I bought the 12 month free line rental mobile phone contract from an online dealer. The deal was £35/month for 12 months which comes to £420. This was displayed on their website, but there was no mention of the redemption amount on paper after the order was placed. The 1st redemption was after 6 months. I had to send 6 months bills, a redemption form and a copy of the invoice for the first installment. Out of the £420 cashback, I was sent a check for £147.50 which is obviously not even close to half the total cashback amount. I thought the remaining amount will be paid in full after the 12 month. Now here's the tricky part. To claim the second installment, I had to enclose the 11th and 12th month bill. Unfortunately, I never received the 11th month bill (I'm not sure of there is a deliberate arrangement). And since I had to fly out of the UK at short notice, I did not have time to follow up for the same. Another small print - I had to submit the claim within 22 days of the 12th bill failing which the redemption claim will be void. This means that (1) I cannot make a claim without the 11th bill and (2) I will lose the claim as I'm unable to submit it within 22 days from the last bill. That's close to £300 shaved off my pocket.
So, my advice for those who opt for cashback / redemption mobile phone contract offers:(1) Print and keep a copy of the mobile phone contract offer from the website
(2) Read the terms and conditions carefully
(3) Look for the small print
(4) Make a note of the redemption months and make a note in your calendar to remind yourself
(5) Make sure you file all your bills
(6) Typically you should send in the bills and the claim form within 22 days of the claim month
(7) Keep a copy of the bill and the redemption form