New O2 scheme lets customers ‘swap phones whenever they like’

UK operator O2 is offering new and existing customers the option to switch their phone for a new one whenever they like in a new scheme called O2 Switch Up.

O2 appears to be offering customers the option of swapping their phones out as and when they please, ‘with no limits’ to how long customers need to have had their current phone or how long is left on their existing contract.

The scheme is called O2 Switch Up and is available from tomorrow. It will automatically be included for O2 customers on Plus Plans, and others can add the service as a bolt on for £3.99 a month. The idea is the phone being swapped will be checked to ensure it meets some condition standards, and then a new contract will be activated with a new handset of the customer’s choosing. Apparently they do not need to pay off the remainder of their previous plan, and the discarded handsets will then be refurbished and resold.

“We’re ripping up the rule book and giving our customers even more freedom and flexibility so that they’re in control,” said Gareth Turpin, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Media O2. “O2 Switch Up gives our customers the power to decide what phone they have and when they have it, all on their terms and with the peace of mind that their previous phone won’t go to waste. With a whole host of exciting new phones set to be released in the coming months we can’t wait to see our customers start switching and getting the most from their new handsets.”

Presumably the economics of this could get haywire so there must be some stipulations in place, despite the free for all situation the marketing is describing. Although assuming they are all of a similar age, its not like you get a dramatically different experience from the array of black slabs that is the modern smartphone market anyway. Most of them run the same operating system and look identical in terms of hardware – so perhaps the faff of changing to a new handset would deter people from doing it too regularly.

There’s a reaching effort to paint this as a move that’s good for the environment as the exchanged phones are refurbished and reused – and of course it would be bit criminal if they were all just chucked in a landfill, but less wasteful still if people stuck with what they had until it gave up the ghost.

All in all, as a differentiator in the telco market there are certainly less substantial perks. On the surface it feels like there would be some obvious economic drawbacks for a firm providing new gear as and when in that way, but presumably the numbers people have done their sums, and the upside is presumably that customers are locked into a fresh contract for a few years each time a swap is made.


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