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The Brexit Phone Contract

david frost
Written by Caroline Bell

For a bit of fun, Caroline Bell imagines that the following telephone conversation took place between David Frost and an EU Telcom rep, Mon. Michel Barnier.

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Britain’s EU Exit trade negotiator David Frost is sitting in his office on Whitehall. The telephone rings.
‘Am I speaking to David Frost?’
‘Good. This is Michel. I’m calling from EU Telcom regarding your mobile phone contract.’
‘But I no longer have a contract with you…’
‘If you don’t mind, I need to go through a few things to comply with GDPR and consumer protection requirements… First, you agree that any offer we may make on your mobile phone contract is governed by EU law, that any disputes arising therefrom are to be settled at the European Court of Justice with no right of appeal, that we may vary the price of your contract at regular intervals based on how much we think you can pay, that such price variations are backed by a guaranteed non-refundable quotient, and that you agree to abide by the contract terms in full in perpetuity.’
‘That’s very interesting, Michel, but as I said, I have left EU Telcom and I don’t wish to renew my contract.’
‘But it says here, in the notice of contract termination, that you will endeavour to sign a new contract with us before 31 December. The clock is ticking, Mr Frost.’
‘Do call me David. The clock is always ticking, Michel, otherwise time would stop. Or we might even be able to turn the clock back.’
‘That would be an excellent idea. Back to 23 June 2016, when you were able to enjoy the full benefits of your EU Telcom Infinity Plan… How about reinstating it? I have been authorised to make you a special deal.’
‘I was actually looking for a PAYG SIM only deal with a few bolt-ons, not a long term contract. I found that I didn’t use all the elements of your Infinity Plan, and they were costing me a great deal of money.’
‘But unlimited roaming within the EU Telcom contract area, the flexibility to let us apportion the minutes you pay for but cannot use to other EU Telcom customers, the benefit of our strict usage rules and regulations to ensure the integrity of your mobile devices… These are exceptional benefits of a contract with us. I cannot think you would find such options with any other provider.’
‘Absolutely agreed. I have been talking to several global mobile phone operators and none of them have such restrictive contracts. I am looking for something more like Canada Plus, or even the Australia Minus terms you have offered in the past.’
‘Those were time-limited tailored deals, David, and we cannot repeat such offers, especially to existing customers.’
‘But I am no longer an existing customer. I have left EU Telcom and I am simply running down the notice period.’
‘But our special 2021 Super Infinity Plus Plan has been designed just for you, building upon our analysis of your profile over forty-seven years. It’s a comprehensive contract to cover all your devices, with 5G enabled, plus satellite phone, equalisation signals, the new NI Protocol and our bespoke security system. It takes time to set it all up. Why not take advantage of the option to extend your notice period so we can ensure that it is just the right package for you?’
‘And that would cost how much?’
‘About £1 billion per month, plus the bolt-ons. And of course you would be bound in full by the existing contract terms, which means that you cannot start a contract with any other operator.’
‘That sounds like anti-competitive practice to me. I have more than one mobile number, you know, and of course I will exercise my consumer rights to choose the best package for my needs across all market players.’
‘Really, David, this is simply not acceptable if you have an EU Telcom contract. Our terms are exclusive to ensure a level playing field within the context of our single telcom area and in order to allow unlimited legally binding modifications and extensions to the terms under our Framework Services Governance Agreement. Global competitors simply cannot match our offer.’
‘No, but they can certainly undercut you. So how about a PAYG SIM only deal? What options do you have?’
‘I have no idea what you mean by a PAYG SIM only deal, but it seems suspiciously like our discontinued Cherry On The Top Plan. I have no mandate to discuss such a plan with you, and indeed, it is the type of package we strongly dislike because it encourages free and fair competition and expands consumer choice. We propose to ban it from the EU Telcom market.’
‘That’s a great pity, because it is exactly the kind of package which would suit me. But thanks for calling, Michel. Now, I have to call WTO Telcom to sort out my rolling SIM-only plan, which kicks in as a safeguard when my notice period expires. And I do believe that Washington and Tokyo are putting together some bespoke packages for me.’
‘But David, the clock is ticking, you must seriously reconsider our exceptional offer…’
‘Gotta go, Michel. It’s been good talking to you, but I see that the reverse charge cost of this call is already £500, and my shareholders won’t be happy. Bye.’

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About the author

Caroline Bell