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Ofcom UK Probes Post Office Over Charges for Text Relay Calls UPDATE

Monday, March 18th, 2019 (11:05 am) - Score 809
postoffice uk broadband

Ofcom has opened a new probe today to investigate whether or not the Post Office, which among other things also offers broadband ISP and phone services to UK consumers, charged customers the correct amount for telephone calls using relay services (e.g. text relay calls).

Text relay services enable people with hearing and / or speech impairments to communicate with others through telephone or textphone equipment. The regulator’s rules (General Condition 5.8) oblige providers to charge customers no more than the cost of a standard call for using relay services, and to apply a special tariff scheme to these calls in order to compensate those customers for the additional time required to complete the call.

According to Ofcom, the Post Office has recently provided information that suggests it might not have applied a special tariff scheme to at least some text relay calls over a four year long period.

Ofcom Statement

Post Office has provided some information indicating that it did not apply a special tariff scheme to some text relay calls between at least 13 March 2014 and 28 November 2018.

We have therefore decided to open an investigation that will examine whether there are reasonable grounds for believing that Post Office has failed to comply with its charging obligations under GC C5.9, and previous GC 15.3, since those respective obligations came into force, including for that specific period.

The regulator will work to reach a provisional decision on whether or not to pursue this investigation by July 2019.

UPDATE 12:44pm

The PO has issued us with the following statement.

A Post Office spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We respect Ofcom’s decision to formally investigate this issue, and will of course assist them in that process – we are taking this matter very seriously, which is why we reported the issue to Ofcom in January 2019, and have already taken numerous steps to put this right.

We are absolutely committed to ensuring that vulnerable customers get the assistance they need, and we have always provided text relay. Unfortunately, there are a small number of customers who made text relay calls that were not charged at a discounted rate. This was not in line with Ofcom’s General Conditions, and we are very sorry to those customers who have been affected.

We have introduced a number of improvements from 1st October 2018 in line with the new General Conditions. These include reviewing our new policy for assisting vulnerable customers, and performing checks to make sure this is effective. We will always try to identify and meet a vulnerable customer’s specific needs, and all of our agents receive specialist training on how to deal with vulnerable and disabled customers.

For those customers who did not get text relay calls at the appropriately discounted rate, we are doing everything we can to reach them and offer them a full refund for the calls, and we will continue to support Ofcom’s investigation as it progresses.”

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Mark Jackson
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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