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Ofcom Fines UK ISP Supatel and TimeTalk GBP60k for Mis-Selling

Monday, June 24th, 2013 (11:07 am) - Score 4,927

The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has today fined broadband and phone provider Supatel Limited (TimeTalk) £60,000 for mis-selling (slamming) after they were found guilty of having switched 83 customers from one ISP to another without the individuals knowledge.

Ofcom originally opened its a case against the ISP on 13th November 2012 after customers of the provider complained to the regulator that they’d been swapped to the service without the provider first gaining their consent, which is considered to be a serious breach of the regulators General Condition 24 (GC24) rule.

The regulators investigation found that it had “reasonable grounds to believe” that, between 1st October 2012 and 30th November 2012, Supatel had repeatedly placed transfer requests for 83 customers (phone services) “without their express knowledge and/or consent“.

Ofcoms Statement

Therefore, on 21 June 2013 Ofcom issued Supatel with a Confirmation Decision under section 96C of the Act. The Confirmation Decision confirms the steps that Supatel must take to comply with requirements of GC24, and GC24.3(d) in particular, and the steps Supatel must take to remedy the consequences arising from its contravention of GC24.3(d). The Confirmation Decision also imposes a fine of £60,000 on Supatel in respect of its contravention of GC24 during the Relevant Period.

Whilst taking full account of the steps it has taken in these regards, Ofcom expects that the steps Supatel must take to comply with the requirements of GC24, and GC24.3(d) in particular, are:

* to have in place processes to ensure that Supatel, trading as timetalk, is only placing transfer orders where the Customer has express knowledge and/or has given consent to a transfer order being placed;

* to fully document policies and procedures in relation to ensuring compliance with GC24, including an effective quality assurance process to monitor the compliance by Supatel’s, trading as timetalk, agents (both its own staff and those it contracts with) who are placing transfer orders for Fixed-Line Telecommunications Services; and

* to provide appropriate training to all Supatel’s, trading as timetalk, agents (both its own staff and those it contracts with) who are engaged in placing transfer orders for all Supatel’s, trading as timetalk, Fixed-Line Telecommunications Services in order to ensure compliance with GC24.

Again whilst taking full account of the steps it has taken in these regards, the steps which Ofcom confirms must be taken by Supatel to remedy the consequences arising from its contravention of GC24.3(d) include but are not limited to:

* allowing the 83 Customers to whom this contravention relates, to cease their contract with Supatel, trading as timetalk, regardless of the length of contract served, with no requirement to pay an Early Termination Charge (“ETC”) or disconnection fee and no requirement to pay any charges for services other than those the Customer has used. Where the Customer chooses to return to their previous CP, this would include compensation for any charges the Customer may incur in the process of returning to their previous CP; and

* where these 83 Customers who may otherwise have fallen into the above category but who have already returned to their previous CP, and have incurred charges in doing so, Supatel, trading as timetalk, must compensate them for those charges.

Ofcom warned that it would now monitor the ISP to ensure compliance with its rules and requirements. Incidentally TimeTalk has been the subject of some consumer frustration on ISPreview.co.uk’s forum for a while (here) and as a result we have long since chosen not to list the service.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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