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Oftel slaps BT over ‘unfair discounts’

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BT has been told to put its house in order following allegations that it used unfair discounts to snatch away a contract from a rival operator.

Telecoms watchdog Oftel has issued a provisional order against BT, claiming that it "appears that BT has breached its licence by failing to make transparent and publish information about a discount it offered to a customer".

In other words, it alleges the dominant telco put together a more competitive deal than was available to other business customers.

Today's provisional order follows a complaint by global virtual network operator Vanco UK Ltd in December 2002.

It claimed it was in the final stages of securing a contract with a major corporate over the provision of analogue and ISDN lines.

Vanco alleged that when BT found out about the contract, it used its indirect sales channel to introduce a substantial discount to the customer.

In a statement, Oftel boss, David Edmonds, said: "It appears to me that BT has effectively offered a discount scheme to a customer which is not transparent and has not been published, contrary to the conditions of its licence."

According to an Oftel spokesperson, BT has three days either to alter its price list to reflect the discount offered or withdraw the offer.

BT is currently considering the content of the provisional order but already there are signs that BT is not prepared to back down.

A spokesman for the company said: "We will comply with the order if we believe we've done anything wrong." ®

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