Feeds

Ofcom to clamp down on 'unfair' charges

Bill paying probe

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.