Feeds

Ofcom to clamp down on 'unfair' charges

Bill paying probe

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Telecoms firms must stop lumping "unfair" charges onto consumers' bills, according to new proposals put forward by Ofcom.

The UK regulator said penalties for paying by cash and cheque rather than direct debit, ending contracts early, or paying bills late should only reflect the charge to the operator rather than a way to get more money out of consumers and businesses.

Ofcom said its guidance, which covers landline, broadband, mobile and pay-TV providers, will ensure charges are "fair and transparent".

Under the proposals, providers will have to clearly advertise the cost of paying by cash or cheque, and the penalties for late or failed payments. Charges should only be made "after consumers have had a fair chance to pay their bills".

Contracts will also have to be more transparent, particularly regarding the cost of breaking a deal. A statement from Ofcom said: "A consumer who ends a contract early should never have to pay more than the payments left under the contract period - in fact they should often pay less than this, to reflect costs providers save because of their ability to recoup sums by selling services to other consumers."

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "Consumers are benefitting from greater competition and lower prices. But for consumers to get an all round fair deal they need to know the full costs of the services they are buying.

"Our proposals will encourage companies to be open and straightforward about additional charges where they feel it is ncessary to include them. In addition, our proposals mean that, in some cases, additional charges will be subject to clear limits which would provide direct protection for consumers."

Ofcom is seeking views on the guidance until 8 May. Once the guidance is published, providers will have three months to comply before enforcement under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned 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.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.