Ofcom bares its teeth at Telcos

Ofcom will tomorrow (18th march 2010) introduce new rules to stop Telecoms companies mis-selling landline services to consumers. Companies that fail to comply with the new rules (General Condition 24 of the Communications Act) will faces fines of up to 10% of their turnover.

The new rules will: -

* prohibit telecoms providers from engaging in misleading and inappropriate sales and marketing activity and slamming (switching a customer to another provider without their knowledge).

* require telecoms companies to keep better records of their sales and marketing activities.

* confirm the type and level of information that needs to be made available to new customers both at the point of sale and after the sale has been concluded (but before the service has actually been transferred). This includes providing important information about the key terms and conditions of the service, including contractual liabilities and cancellation rights.

* introduce new rules to make clear when providers are allowed to cancel orders placed by other providers. Cancelling orders for purposes other than those expressly specified by the regulations will be prohibited.

Ofcom received up to 750 complaints per month (some where companies had blatantly lied about who they were) with the last year and fined 2 companies the maximum of 10% of turnover under the old regulations.

Though Ofcom has the power to act, it only does so on complaint and unfortunately many consumers don't know how to or care about complaining.

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