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Ofcom Calls on UK Telecoms Firms to Extend COVID-19 Billing Support

Friday, July 3rd, 2020 (9:46 am) - Score 1,126
covid-19 virus broadband isp uk

The UK communications and media regulator, Ofcom, has this week called on broadband ISPs, phone providers and mobile operators to “continue to support” consumers who may be struggling to pay their bills as a result of the on-going Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Many telecoms operators have taken measures during the crisis to help support customers who run into financial difficulties as a result of the virus, which tends to vary but can include everything from committing not to disconnect users to agreeing various discounts (see our summary).

The good news is that more people are now returning to work as the lockdown eases, although there’s no escaping the economic crisis that will result and the pandemic itself is still far from over (we’ll need a vaccine for that). As a result Ofcom has called on telecoms providers not to withdraw support for those people who “might face financial difficulty and therefore be less able to pay their telecoms bills.

Importantly, we also want to remind you to contact your provider as soon as possible if you’re already in financial difficulty or if you think you’re going to struggle to pay your bills. Your provider can talk you through the options they have in place to help you manage your situation,” said the regulator.

Steps Ofcom Have Requested

* Prioritising support for customers who might be struggling to pay their telecoms bills, offering advice on managing telecoms debt and strengthening their work with consumer bodies and other organisations who could help these customers;

* Offering options to struggling customers, such as a payment plan, a cheaper tariff, or a delay on their payment;

* Making sure customers still get the level of telecoms service they’re used to if they’ve asked for support, avoiding penalty charges such as late payment fees; and

* Avoiding disconnection for these customers and treating it only as a last resort.

At present it remains difficult to gauge how many operators will actually heed this and what changes they may be making behind the scenes (most providers don’t like to talk about this in public), but for now most do seem to be retaining some of the measures that were first introduced during the lockdown.

Separately around 500,000 NHS frontline staff in England continue to benefit from mobile and fixed broadband offers to stay connected at work during the coronavirus outbreak. Providers involved in the commitment include BT, EE, O2, Vodafone, Three UK, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky Broadband, Openreach, Gigaclear, Cityfibre, Post Office, ID Mobile, Lycamobile, GiffGaff, Plusnet, KCOM, ASK4, CommunityFibre, Zzoomm, Voneus, Smarty, Hyperoptic, G.Network, Spectrum Internet and Wightfibre.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Herve says:

    Most of the big league British telecoms should’ve done this long before Ofcom enforced this on the them, unfortunately, it is like they’re children where they have to be forced to do the right thing for vulnerable people.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Well yes because they’re commercial businesses, not charities, and have their own problems to contend with as a result of COVID-19. It took everybody, including the Government, a bit of time to figure out how to adapt before they could do anything.

  2. Avatar Mike says:

    So we only look after the NHS and screw every other key worker? More to this crisis than the NHS

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