Feeds

Ofcom to clamp down on 'unfair' charges

Bill paying probe

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.