Feeds

BT accused of 'sharp practice' on rolling contracts

TalkTalk calls for Ofcom action

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

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
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
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
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile 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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.