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Unicom’s Parent Company Universal Utilities Renames to VERASTAR

Thursday, October 15th, 2015 (3:33 pm) - Score 7,706
unicom

A few months ago Ofcom fined Unicom (Universal Utilities) £200,000 for misleading consumers over the sale of their fixed line telecommunications services (here) and so it’s perhaps worth pointing out that the ISPs parent company has just renamed itself to VERASTAR.

Over the past few years ISPreview.co.uk has received a small string of historic complaints (peaking in 2009-11) about the provider, with common allegations suggesting that Unicom might have sometimes failed to make clear that their broadband services came with a 3 year contract (phone orders) or made it difficult for customers who wanted to leave.

Ofcom’s investigate didn’t go that far back and focused on a period between the 1st March 2013 and 8th July 2014, while their efforts were also more tightly confined to the question of whether or not Unicom had complied with their obligations under General Condition 24.3 (this covers “mis-selling” and related marketing matters).

In the end the regulator concluded that Unicom had provided “mis-leading information to some prospective customers” and in so doing had thus breached their rules. Unicom was ordered to pay a fine of £200,000 and told to compensate any customers that were impacted by their practices, although sadly this compensation only applied to the limited period of Ofcom’s review (i.e. some subscribers haven’t benefited).

But in keeping with all this it’s been noted by one of our readers, whom kindly pointed us towards the development, that Universal Utilities / Unicom registered a change of name at Companies House on the 9th October 2015 and they are now called VERASTAR. It’s still the same Company Reg No. 03667643, same VAT Reg No. 945 795467 and the same trading address.

Interestingly the VERASTAR domain name appears to have been registered on 15th July 2015, which is just a couple of weeks before Ofcom’s £200k fine was announced. The previously proposed £300m flotation of Unicom, which could have suffered some impact from Ofcom’s ruling, may have also played a part.

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

    One of the rules regarding the sharing of a VAT registration is that the companies involved have to be under the same management. Clearly this is the case.
    However both websites make no mention of the other business.
    The impression given from the websites is that it is business as usual at Unicom and that Verastar have been trading since 1998.

    • Surely though, from the article above, it is the same business – just that the company name has been changed? If so, then there is only one company involved and not “the companies”.

  2. PeterM

    Important note!
    They also have another website kinex.co.uk
    This links to Verastar. It offers the same products for direct sale as Unicom. I could find no mention of Unicom on the kinex site.

  3. Jazmin

    What fun

    They’ll now start phoning me claiming they are a new company

    Never ending problems with these people

  4. TomC

    Had a company called Kinex come to see us today. We were already suspicious that they had connections with Unicom so we asked him directly about it and he claimed that he worked for Verastar so that ultimately confirmed our suspicions. It was a shame as the offer seemed good and the sales person was friendly enough but the walk in and sign up now scheme has never been suited to our taste.

    Any company not willing to leave a contract with you to sign and think about before committing even with a cooling off period (The time allowed to be able to cancel) with us we are not signing it as it is bad practice not to allow somebody the time to really read a contract over and do the background checks on the company.

  5. Busterbobs

    Hi TomC
    If you check out http://www.unicom-complaints.co.uk you will find hundreds of links to complaints about Unicom and many of the complaints are from customers who were promised a good deal by the Unicom sales rep but found that their bills had significantly increased. When customers tried to cancel their 3 year contracts, they were faced with either having to pay three or four figure sum in termination fees or remain with Unicom for the duration of the 3 year contract. It is good to see that Ofcom have launched a survey to hear from consumers having trouble with cancelling their contracts http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/news/cancelling-contract/

  6. Paul

    I was told pure lies by Unicom sales rep and when I confronted Unicom about price increase they said it was between me and the sales rep and nothing to do with them I was furious

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