An MHK has accused Manx Telecom of using ’scare tactics’ and ’guerilla marketing’ over threatened changes to customers’ mobile phone tariff plans.

After the Examiner contacted the company, MT apologised for confusion over letters sent out to customers on out of contract mobile tariffs, informing them that their bills would go up next month.

Onchan MHK Rob Callister says he was informed that his current tariff plan was ’very old’ and had not been available for sale or renewal for some time.

MT told him that, following a review of ’legacy tariffs’, his plan would increase to £51 a month from August 23.

But Mr Callister said he had had his i-Phone for less than 18 months and would have expected his current £37.50 a month bill to go down not up.

And having contacted the utility, he is now a new tariff with better benefits and paying only £24 a month.

He said: ’This can only be described as “guerilla marketing”. Why send out a demand for £51 per month, which is nothing more than a scare tactic?

’I didn’t want to change my mobile. It was perfectly fine. And I was happy with the tariff I was on. To say this is a very old tariff plan is not true and I don’t believe it’s not been available for sale for a long time.’

Mr Callister urged customers not to panic, and to contact MT to arrange a new tariff plan – as by doing nothing, they would end up going on to the higher tariff.

He said he went into MT’s shop and was surprised by the number of people complaining after receiving the same letter.

’This letter could really have been written a lot better. How many people are going to be paying significantly more?’ he said.

’It would have been better for Manx Telecom to write to customers about the potential savings they are missing out on rather sending out letters like this.’

The letter sent to him by MT advises: ’Your current tariff Smartphone 15GB mobile tariff plan is very old and has not been available for sale or renewal for some time.

’Following a recent review of the cost of maintaining the high volume of legacy tariffs and in accordance with our policy, we will be increasing monthly changes on legacy tariffs from August.’

The letter invite customers to come into its shop to discuss options, and points out that ’significantly enhanced’ pay monthly tariffs offer ’wider benefits and potential savings over our old legacy tariffs’.

Ed Jennings, Manx Telecom’s chief commercial officer, said: ’We have not written to customers and encouraged them to move onto a tariff at a higher price point. We are not, as other operators do, forcing them on to another tariff.

’We have instead provided 30 days’ notice that their existing tariff will increase because it is an old legacy product that we no longer sell. We apologise if our recent letter has caused any confusion.’

Mr Jennings said a ’small percentage’ of our customers on old out of contract mobile tariffs – e.g. Pay Monthly 15GB – who are missing out on better benefits and potentially some great savings.

He said: ’Every year Manx Telecom writes to thousands of customers, several months before they come out of term because we want to ensure they know about our newest tariffs and benefits.

’We want all our customers to talk to us so that we can help personally establish their needs and recommend the many new alternative options that offer far greater value for money.’

He added: ’We urge any customer on an old, out of contract tariff to visit our Manx Telecom store in Strand Street and to talk our team about our newest and latest tariffs. We are confident that we will have something that is better value for them.’

He said customers sometimes choose to stay on old legacy tariffs and do not want to change.

’We always strive to accommodate all our customers’ needs and have legacy tariffs still in use with just a few customers on them,’ he said.

’We are happy to maintain old products if our customers want them but we must cover the increased cost of maintaining high volumes of old legacy tariffs within our systems.’

Source: IoMToday