Ofcom moves to hang up on phone cheats

Telecoms watchdog Ofcom is to introduce new rules in an attempt to crack down on companies that have tried to mis-sell home phone services to more than 100,000 customers over the past year.

Telecoms watchdog Ofcom is to introduce new rules in an attempt to crack down on companies that have tried to mis-sell home phone services to more than 100,000 customers over the past year.

From May, the regulator will be able to fine companies that are caught "slamming", switching customers' home phone provider without permission. The rules follow increasing concerns that the home phone market, which has been opened to competition over the past two years, could face a repeat of the problems that dogged gas and electricity consumers when the energy market was deregulated.

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners complained they had been conned into signing up for a new energy provider by door-to-door salesmen. Ed Knight, a spokesman for Ofcom, said there was increasing evidence of similar practices among home phone providers.

An investigation by the watchdog into allegations made by market leader BT concluded 7,500 customers a month are being approached by salesmen acting dishonestly. "As competition in this market has grown, so too has the number of people affected by mis-selling," said Knight.

BT managing director Gavin Patterson said the Ofcom announcement vindicated its campaign against slamming. But he said the watchdog's move to force operators to draw up their own codes of conduct did not go far enough.

"We need a single mandatory code of best practice because Ofcom is not going to be able to monitor and enforce all these companies' codes," he said.

Many phone customers discover they have been a victim of slamming only when they receive a letter from the new provider explaining it has a contract to supply phone services.

However, Uswitch, the price comparison service, said it was vital to ensure there were no obstacles stopping phone customers seeking a better deal.

"We think this is the right way to act," said Uswitch's Chris Williams. "Mis-selling has not yet reached the scale of the problem which affected the energy industry, but it is a growing problem that needs to be nipped in the bud."

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

    £15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory