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Ofcom Accuses UK Phone and Broadband ISP of Misleading Customers

Posted: 16th Jun, 2010 By: MarkJ
ofcom ukMarket regulator Ofcom UK has accused a London-based phone and broadband provider (ISP), Continental Telecom, of using dubious tactics after consumers were switched to the service without their express and informed consent (i.e. slamming) and kept in the dark about their consumer rights. The ISP could now face a significant fine if it fails to take the appropriate action, which could be worth up to 10% of the company's turnover.

continental telecom uk

Ofcom's investigation concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe it "misled consumers" in an effort to get them to switch from rival providers. The regulator has now issued a Notification, requiring Continental Telecom to take appropriate action to comply with its rules, including remedying any consequences arising from its breaches.
The Ofcom probe also found that Continental Telecom had:

• Used unacceptable sales tactics to get consumers to sign up to its deals;

• Failed to tell customers of their right to cancel during the switchover process.

• Abused the trust of vulnerable customers, including the elderly, people with special needs and those whose first language is not English.

• Cut customers off for alleged non-payment of bills without giving them due warning.
Continental Telecom must now comply with Ofcom's requirements within one month and it has the right during this time to challenge the findings.

Ofcom's Statement on Refunds and Reconnection

Those Continental Telecom customers who have suffered because of the company’s rule breaches must be allowed to end their contract without being hit with any extra charges or penalty fees. Those customers who have already transferred to another provider and paid fees prior to transferring must get reimbursed for those fees.

Customers who were misled into switching to Continental Telecom – or who were not told of their right to cancel during the switchover period – must also be refunded any minimum contract charges.

...

Ofcom also found that some of the breaches where customers had been disconnected or had their services suspended were urgent. Continental Telecom is therefore required to reconnect these suspended and disconnected consumers by 5pm on 17th June 2010. If the company does not comply with this, then Ofcom also has the power to issue a direction to suspend Continental Telecom’s services.

The investigation itself officially began in February this year after Ofcom noticed an increase in complaints about Continental Telecom. It is however very rare to see the regulator actually putting its foot down; most operators usually move to rectify any problems when they do. In the past big names like Pipex (now defunct as part of Opal/TalkTalk) and Prodigy Internet, among others, have both fallen foul of the rules.
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