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Ofcom expands probe into BT contract information

UK comms regulator Ofcom thinks BT subsidiaries EE and Plusnet may be falling short in their obligations to provide ‘clear and simple’ contract information.

This latest development represents the expansion of an investigation Ofcom opened on 4 October last year, when it suspected EE wasn’t obeying the letter of new rules that had come into force a few months earlier. The specific rules in question are General Conditions C1.3 to C1.7 and C5.16, which you can find on page 26 of this riveting read.

If you understandably can’t be bothered to download the PDF, the summary is that there is a bunch of information a CSP has to provide to a customer before signing them up to a new deal. On top of that, the information needs to be clear and comprehensible and there also needs be a summary of it offered to the presumably vast majority of punters that have better things to do with their time than comb through legalese smallprint.

EE and now, it seems, Plusnet may have been let down by BTs compliance people, such that they failed to do what Ofcom demands. The extent to which they have erred is unclear, but BT will presumably be keen to make the required adjustments sharpish. “We want our customers to be fully informed and we make sales information upfront, clear and transparent,” a BT Consumer spokesperson told Telecoms.com. “We are fully engaged with Ofcom during the course of this investigation.”

This could easily be a storm in a teacup, requiring a few minor tweaks to the way in which BT and its subsidiaries communicate with their customers, but it does beg a couple of questions. When the Ofcom rules were so clear, it’s baffling how a company that presumably has armies of people devoted entirely to regulatory compliance would fail to do so. And if it wasn’t a mistake, what does it say about a company that is so reluctant to offer its customers the minimum levels of clarity and transparency?

In other Ofcom news, the regulator is continuing to make disapproving noises about telecoms price rises, with BT announcing a 14.4% increase last week. Ofcom doesn’t have a role in setting retail prices but it can’t deny the inflationary pressures affecting everyone these days. We asked Ofcom if it has raised the annual license it charges mobile operators for some spectrum and it conceded that those had gone up by around 10% for the 2022/23 period.

 

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One comment

  1. Avatar Adam 27/01/2023 @ 3:30 pm

    Hi, Can anyone explain if these changes apply to small telecom companies as well please?

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