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OneTel 'worst mis-selling offender' says BT

As war of words rumbles on

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More customers complain about OneTel's sales tactics than any other telco, BT claimed, as the war of words between the rivals intensified today

The Register understands that one in five of the 21,000 complaints BT receives each month about mis-selling concern OneTel.

BT has just won an out of court settlement from Centrica, which owns OneTel, that it will not mislead punters when signing them up to its telephone service.

BT claims it has evidence that OneTel sales staff have told punters that OneTel "was definitely part of BT" and that signing up to OneTel was "signing up to a BT service". But OneTel hit back hit back claiming BT's decision to publicise the agreement was done not to protect consumers but to "damage the OneTel name".

Said OneTel boss Ian El-Mokadem: "By publicising our signing of undertakings in regard to IP Infringement BT are attempting to infer that Onetel has not had controls in place previously. Clearly, their desire is to damage the Onetel name.

"One has to ask why, having co-operated in this way, BT insisted on publicising this matter.

Now, BT has responded with BT Retail boss Ian Livingston pleading: "Can this be about customers, not smokescreens".

He went on: "BT has acted because customers were contacting us to say they had been misled. Customers have repeatedly asked us what we are doing and why we let companies get away with certain practices.

"Companies like Centrica and their OneTel telecoms arm do not sign legal undertakings like this easily. We made it very clear to them that we would not guarantee confidentiality.

"The fact is we lodged legal complaints about OneTel back in March and we get more complaints about the switching process where OneTel is concerned than any other company. OneTel could help put customers out of their misery by stopping practices like door to door selling. Are they prepared to?" he said.

But as the tit-for-tat slanging match continued a spokeswoman for OneTel told us that direct sales "are crucial to creating effective competition".

"Millions of customers have switched telcos and saved millions of pounds because of direct selling," she said.

"We have 1.5m satisfied landline customers saving over £30m having switched from BT. We have no need to be associated with BT," she said. ®

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