Feeds

Ofcom acts to improve consumer protection

Slowly does it

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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.

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.