Home
 » ISP News, Key Developments » 
Sponsored

New UK Consumer Advocate to Tackle Unfair Broadband Practices UPDATE

Monday, June 3rd, 2019 (8:02 am) - Score 993
customer support broadband, telecoms and mobile uk

The Government has revealed that they will soon legislate to create a new independent “consumer advocate,” which will be given the task of tackling “unfair” practices within the UK telecoms market (broadband ISPs and mobile operators). On top of that they will also provide “direct support” to consumers.

The idea of creating a “consumer champion” (or “consumer advocate” as the Government calls it) in order to conduct research into allegedly unfair practices (e.g. loyalty penalties), and represent the consumers point of view in future consultations, is not a new one.

The fact that the Government intends to put some legislation behind all of this suggests that it will be more than a mere ceremonial position or agency and might have some real teeth. Sadly at present there isn’t much further information to go off.

On top of that we’re unsure how this will differ from existing organisations like the Citizens Advice agency or Ofcom’s frequently ignored and overlooked Communications Consumer Panel (CCP). Most people haven’t even heard of the latter and that could be part of the problem, which may be about to change because CCP has itself also called for more powers (here).

Margot James, UK Minister for Digital, said:

“It’s clear that some mobile and broadband customers are vulnerable to unfair business practices.

We’ve already strengthened Ofcom’s powers to improve outcomes for consumers but a strong, independent consumer champion will empower customers and hold telecoms companies to account, as well as working with them to drive improvements in their services.

The consumer advocate will help deliver a Britain that works for everyone putting more money into the pockets of ordinary working people.”

Some might equally read this as being akin to a vote of no confidence in Ofcom’s ability to perform such a function, particularly as one of the industry regulator’s primary duties is to “help to make sure people don’t get scammed and are protected from bad practices.” This is well illustrated by some of their recent changes (here), but the regulator does not itself deal with individual complaints and that’s one area that could be improved.

Whatever the outcome, it seems clear to us that any consumer advocate must actually be able to engage with consumers directly and listen to their views, as opposed to being a faceless organisation that merely snipes at new policies or practices almost silently from the side-lines. But to do that properly will require a lot more resources.

UPDATE 2:02pm

The final press release has now been issued and it includes a few extra details.

The new advocate will:

* Conduct research and use it to highlight areas where the consumer experience can be improved.

* Represent consumers in key policy and regulatory debates, as the rollout of full fibre broadband and 5G mobile technology gathers pace.

* Provide direct support and advice to consumers, particularly the most vulnerable, who can struggle to engage with what is an increasingly complex market, as the Extra Help Unit does in the energy sector.

* Work directly with industry to help them improve consumer outcomes, for example by bringing together industry best practice.

* Support our digital connectivity ambitions by running campaigns to help consumers get the best deals and upgrade to better and faster services, similar to the Big Energy Saving Week.

A consultation on all this is due to follow in the summer.

Add to Diigo
Tags:
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.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Joe

    Great because the record of cresting ‘Czars’ for all sorts of things have such a tremendous record of success. Oh wait…

    The safer bet is they someone will get overpaid to produce a lot of self-important hot air that will do nothing to meaningfully change anything.

  2. Avatar Optimist

    If the government really wants to help broadband customers, it should scrap legislation such as the EU copyright directive, blocking websites unsupportive of the establishment, and prosecuting people for hurty tweets.

  3. Avatar New_Londoner

    Let’s hope that the government doesn’t designate either the Consumers’ Association or Citizens Advice Bureau to undertake this role given the poor track record of both groups in publishing very dodgy “market research” on broadband, mobile pricing etc. It would be a real shame if such practices were rewarded with government funding.

  4. Avatar Brian Storey

    Something like a branch of the OTA perhaps?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £15.00 (*22.00)
    Avg. Speed 30Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Code: FLASH19
  • Vodafone £22.00 (*24.00)
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • TalkTalk £22.45
    Avg. Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Direct Save Telecom £22.95 (*29.95)
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Origin Broadband £23.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2406)
  2. FTTP (1996)
  3. FTTC (1596)
  4. Building Digital UK (1547)
  5. Politics (1341)
  6. Openreach (1334)
  7. Business (1179)
  8. Statistics (1041)
  9. Mobile Broadband (966)
  10. FTTH (964)
  11. Fibre Optic (941)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (879)
  13. Wireless Internet (861)
  14. 4G (847)
  15. Virgin Media (808)
  16. Sky Broadband (574)
  17. TalkTalk (556)
  18. EE (555)
  19. Vodafone (469)
  20. Security (394)
Promotion
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact