Feeds

Ofcom acts to improve consumer protection

Slowly does it

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Ofcom has published a stack of proposals about how to improve consumer protection for millions of UK phone and broadband users, kicking off ten weeks of consultation during which it will look to thrash out a number of proposals to keep UK consumers safe from rogue or incompetent operators.

In a nutshell, the regulator wants to increase consumer protection by installing an improved early warning system to raise awareness of scams and misselling in the communications sector, backed by "quicker and more targeted action" to address issues of concern to consumers. It also wants to see how current complaints processes can be improved, and provide access to "reliable and useful data to inform their choices in a competitive market".

According to the consultation document*, Ofcom's aim is to "work together with other organisations and industry to ensure that consumers benefit from increasingly competitive communications markets, are effectively protected from financial and physical harm, unreasonable annoyance and anxiety, and have the information and tools necessary to make informed choices."

Much of Ofcom's desire to improve consumer protection comes from increased competition with consumers able to source their telecoms service from scores of different providers. But with improved choice comes the greater chance that something might go wrong - either as a genuine mistake or by operators deliberately setting out to rip-off punters.

This is acknowledged by Ofcom who noted: "Consumer protection is particularly challenging in the communications sector, because modern communications systems provide ineffective or dishonest providers with easy and efficient access to consumers, and because new technologies can give rise to new forms of harm. Though desirable in other respects, the growth of competition can also contribute to consumer protection problems, as it can lead to a rise in unfair selling practices and may be associated with an increase in 'hit and run' behaviour by dishonest providers."

Indeed, the regulator points out that when it comes to rogue internet diallers, silent calls, misselling, and misleading advertising, it has adopted an "increasingly vigorous approach to consumer protection". Yet, there is still one area where Ofcom has yet to make the right noises regarding consumer protection.

Last year, broadband ISP Bulldog was investigated by Ofcom amid hundreds of complaints from punters who said they had been left without phone and broadband services. Complaints reached such a level in June, July and August that Bulldog's undermanned customer support service was almost permanently engaged. Despite widespread media coverage and hundreds of complaints, it took Ofcom until the last day of August before it finally intervened and opened an investigation.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM
Networks' main issue: they don't know how it works, says expert
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.