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BT escapes with caution after abuse complaints

Promises OFTEL it won't let Internet sales staff look at customers' phone records

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British Telecom has escaped with a rap on the knuckles after being caught in an absolutely outrageous piece of malpractice (writes an absolutely outraged Register). UK telecoms watchdog OFTEL has let the giant off with a caution after some of its sales staff were found to have been using billing information to swipe rival ISPs' customers. OFTEL had received complaints that telesales staff for BT's Click Internet service were studying phone records which only BT and the customer had access to, finding the phone numbers of rival ISPs and then cold-calling them customers to sell them Click instead. OFTEL says this "appeared to OFTEL to be an abuse of BT's dominant position, in contravention of the Fair Trading Condition in their licence." From BT's point of view, the upshot of OFTEL's investigation seems to be a score draw. The company has promised to ensure that staff selling Internet services don't have access to customer calling information, and that telesales staff with access to such information do not market Internet products. According to Director General of Telecommunications David Edmonds "I have made it clear to BT that if any further incidents of this kind occur I will consider further action which could include the issuing of an Order against BT. We will continue to protect consumers' interest by ensuring that there is fair competition in the provision of information services." But this arrangement leaves matters nicely fuzzy. Could it just have been a case of a few isolated incidents involving rogue staff? And could BT explain why telesales staff had (and some will apparently still have) access to customer calling records? Perhaps some of the complaining ISPs or cold-called customers might consider having a word with the Data Protection Registrar, who is responsible for regulating the use of confidential data in the UK. ® Click for more stories

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