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Tele2 slams BT over switching claims

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BT is facing a fresh complaint concerning allegations about the way it is trying to persuade customers from switching phone providers.

Tele2 UK boss, Bill Butler, told the FT that he has proof that BT is phoning up punters who are looking to switch to the rival service and "falsely inflating" Tele2's tariffs in a bid to get them to stick with the dominant telco.

The matter has now been passed to communications regulator Ofcom.

A spokesman for BT dismissed the allegations but insisted that the telco would cooperate with any resulting investigation.

If all this sound familiar, then you're right. In November, former telecoms regulator Oftel upheld a complaint from Thus and Broadsystem Ventures Ltd preventing BT from using information about the transfer of customers to alternative telecoms suppliers such as One.Tel, Tiscali and Tele2.

Oftel found that BT - which was calling customers who had decided to move to rival operators - was using this information to try to convince punters to stay with the monster telco.

At the time Oftel said: "Until now, BT has passed this [transfer] information to its marketing department, which has then contacted the customer to try and persuade them to stay with BT. Oftel has today ordered BT to stop carrying out this practice, on the grounds that it is forbidden under the new EU Access and Interconnection Directive that came into force in the UK in July 2003."

BT insists that it is doing nothing wrong by contacting punters looking to leave its service. In fact, the monster telco reckons that unless it can contact punters, it could open the floodgates for 'slamming', a process where customers are switched phone providers without their knowledge or consent.

Earlier this month BT lodged a formal appeal against the ruling with the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT), the UK's highest specialist competition law court. ®

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