BT accuses TalkTalk of 'shady' sales practice

Ian Livingston, the new chief executive of BT Retail, has accused Charles Dunstone, the founder of Carphone Warehouse, of "shady practice" over the entrepreneur's sales methods.

A dispute has erupted over TalkTalk, Mr Dunstone's home-phone service which was launched by Carphone Warehouse last year in fierce competition to BT. Mr Livingston has taken the step of making an official complaint to Ofcom, the industry regulator, over TalkTalk's methods and a formal investigation into the matter is under way.

TalkTalk offers home-phone users a rival service to BT's, which provides cheap calls. However, TalkTalk also intends to take over the provision of line rental from BT, in effect ending any relationship BT has with a customer. It is the methods used by Carphone Warehouse to migrate customers off existing BT line rental agreements on to TalkTalk's "wholesale line rental" agreements that have triggered the dispute.

BT has alleged that TalkTalk's customer agreements are unfair because they include a "negative opt-out term" which allows TalkTalk to move customers without their permission. Mr Livingston said: "These clauses are unfair on customers and are a shady practice. I am surprised they would ever be considered by a major industry operator."

The row centres on a clause in the TalkTalk contract, which says that in future the company will be able to take responsibility for a customer's telephone connection, including the billing of line rental. It says TalkTalk will write to customers, notifying them of such a change.

"If we do not receive written notification that you do not want us to take over responsibility for your telephone connection in this way, we will notify you of the date on which such a takeover will take effect," the clause states.

A spokesman for Carphone said: "What Charles [Dunstone] is saying is if you buy TalkTalk it states explicitly that line rental will be delivered when available. It is a positive thing, not a negative. In addition to that, when line rental becomes available Carphone will be writing to everyone to confirm that they would like to have it."

Some industry observers claim that since Mr Livingston took over the job of running BT's biggest division from Pierre Danon, the company has become more "frosty" in its relations with competitors.

However, BT is battling to protect its legacy domestic fixed-line business and has started to show success in slowing the decline in customer numbers.

Ofcom said it had received a complaint from BT relating to a term in TalkTalk's consumer contracts. "BT's allegation is that such a term is unfair for the purposes of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999. Ofcom has opened an investigation to determine whether the term in question in TalkTalk's contracts may be unfair," the regulator said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all