This article deconstructs mobile phone contracts as an example of long-term contractual relations in four jurisdictions to reveal that there are three elements which define consumer protection. The elements are contract duration, renewal of the agreement and unilateral modification. Each of these factors are regulated differently in each of the jurisdictions, but, assessed collectively, similar levels of consumer protection are found. The authors show that the reason for the different weighting is determined by regulation (subject-specific or general); by external factors, such as technological development, geography or business considerations; and by wider cultural considerations. The comparison of these features across the jurisdictions shows that, ultimately, regulatory intervention plays little role in contract design, unless an overwhelming policy goal is pursued, which means that, in most cases, regulators would be advised to avoid or reduce regulation of mobile phone and other long-term contracts.
C Bisping and TJ Dodsworth, Consumer Protection and the Regulation of Mobile Phone Contracts: A Study of Automatically Renewable Long-Term Contracts Across Jurisdictions, Journal of Consumer Policy, September 2019, volume 42, issue 3, pp 349–375.