Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/04/14/slamming_ofcom/

Ofcom acts to combat 'slamming'

Not good enough, says BT

By Tim Richardson

Posted in Broadband, 14th April 2005 11:25 GMT

Ofcom is introducing new industry rules to stamp out slamming and other dodgy sales techniques following complaints about the antics of some fixed line telcos.

From the end of May all telcos flogging fixed line telco services must adhere to a mandatory code of practice to prevent punters being duped into switching telephone suppliers.

In the worst "slamming" cases, punters are switched from one telco to another without their knowledge or consent. Companies that breach the new rules could be fined up to 10 per cent of turnover.

Said Ofcom chief exec Stephen Carter said: "These measures should help support progress towards the appropriate levels of clarity and transparency whilst the market continues to mature."

Although BT has welcomed the measures, it doesn't believe they go far enough and wants regulator Ofcom to take a harder line against those companies engaged in dodgy selling.

The UK's incumbent telco, which is steadily losing market share to rivals such as the Carphone Warehouse and Tele2, claims that 15,000 punters a month complain about the way they've transferred away from BT and reckons that its research shows that the problem is getting worse.

Said BT Retail boss Ian Livingston: "Consumers are telling us that the issue of mis-selling is extremely important to them. As some companies launch aggressive door to door consumer selling campaigns, with salesmen with little accountability, we fear even larger scale hassle for customers. Customers are rightly demanding protection and effective measures that will stamp out mis-selling for good."

Not everyone agrees that mis-selling is a problem with at least one rival saying that BT is over reacting.

Said One.Tel boss Ian El-Mokadem: "We are 100 per cent supportive of Ofcom's plans. We have however had differences of opinion with BT over their claims of the scale of the complaints. All the responsible players in the industry want to see mis-selling stamped out and working with Ofcom is the best way to do this." ®

Related stories

Ofcom intervenes in telephone 'slamming' row
BT gets huffy about mis-selling
Beware the domain slammers - UK gov
Tele2 slams BT over switching claims