Feeds

BT accused of 'sharp practice' on rolling contracts

TalkTalk calls for Ofcom action

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

TalkTalk has sparked a row with BT by accusing it of "sharp practice" over its contract renewals policy, which aims to tie customers in for an extra year or even 18 months.

It's about a year since BT adopted a rolling contract policy. If subscribers coming to the end of their initial term do not notify BT they want to leave, they'll automatically be signed up for another term. If they subsequently want to leave, customers face a financial penalty of "up to £180", TalkTalk claimed.

Andrew Heaney, TalkTalk's strategy and regulation director, said: "We believe that rolling contracts are a sharp practice at any time, but particularly so in the current credit crunch and with given the riches available in the market. We would like to see these unfair rolling contracts stamped out and have already called upon Ofcom to take a firm line in this area."

BT said customers choose to extend their contracts because they are offered good deals. "We meet Ofcom's requirements," spokesman Leslie King said. "I don't know how they came to a figure of £180. It's totally inaccurate."

BT also sent this statement:

Customers have a clear choice on whether they want to opt in to a renewable contract in exchange for the considerable benefit of free evening calls. They are very clearly reminded in writing with around 30 days notice when their contract is coming up for renewal that they will be entering into a new 12-month period unless say that they do not wish to do so.

Many other services, such as magazine subscriptions, insurance, car breakdown services are contracted in similar ways.

But Heaney continued his attack: "BT cynically places the onus on its customers to cancel their contracts – simply because it knows that many of them will simply forget."

Ofcom said BT and other communications providers have until April 1 this year to comply with its guidance on contract terms or face a review under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations. A spokeswoman said: "Ofcom does have some concerns over the automatic renewal of contracts if it means that consumers are subject to unintentionally long and recurring contracts. Ofcom will open an enforcement programme and will take action where necessary."

BT reiterated that it believes it is complying with Ofcom's rules and that its customers are exchanging a longer contract for a better deal. ®

Reducing security risks from open source software

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
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
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
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.