A SLAITHWAITE businessman has launched an online campaign against a mobile phone company’s price rises.

Scott Gardner has started a Facebook group called ‘Say No to O2 Fixed Price Contract Rises’ after the company announced it would be increasing the price of all its pay-monthly mobile phone deals from February 28.

The 3.2% price rise, announced earlier this month, is expected to affect millions of O2 customers and net the company an extra £45m a year.

The announcement has caused particular upset among customers – including Mr Gardner – who believed they were on a fixed price contract.

O2 reserves the right to increase tariffs on its fixed-rate contracts, although customers have complained this is unfair.

Consumer magazine Which? lodged an official complaint with communications watchdog Ofcom after rival networks increased their fixed-rate contract tariffs.

Mr Gardner, who owns a printing business, has been a customer of O2 (formerly BT Cellnet) for 17 years.

But, like millions of other O2 fixed-rate customers, Mr Gardner will be charged a fee if he terminates his contract as O2 have only increased his tariff once.

Mr Gardner, 36, said: “I’ve been unhappy with O2 over the last 12 months.

“When I got an email from O2 saying they would be increasing prices for the rest of the contract there was steam coming out of my ears!

“I’m encouraging people to leave O2 and like my Facebook page.

“What they are doing is legal but they are not morally right.

“There are lots and lots of unhappy people locked into their contracts.

“I know it’s only £1 per month but I feel really upset.

“If I could get 100,000 signatures on an e-petition the Government would have to debate it in Parliament. That would be my ultimate aim.”

A spokesperson for O2 said: “We’ve been in regular communication with Mr Gardner for the past few weeks in relation to our recent announcement on price increases.

“We’ve pointed out that our terms and conditions do state that we may increase our charges from time to time and offered him the opportunity to move down to a lower tariff.

“We’ve also advised him that he can terminate his contract at any time and that our usual early termination fees will apply.

“These are our standard terms for anyone looking to change their tariff or terminate their contract.

“Price increases are never welcome and this isn’t a decision we’ve taken lightly.

“At a time when our competitors have been raising the prices of their tariffs, we’ve resisted. But as external costs continue to rise, we can’t keep our pay monthly prices at the current level.

“For over half of our pay monthly customers this will mean an increase on their bill of up to 58p per month”.