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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
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
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?