Own-initiative investigation into Everything Everywhere’s (trading as Orange) compliance with General Condition 23 in respect of its sales and marketing practices

22 October 2012

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative investigation following complaints from consumers
Investigation against: Everything Everywhere (trading as Orange)
Case opened: 28 September 2011
Case closed: 22 October 2012
Issue: Whether Everything Everywhere (trading as Orange) complied with its obligations under General Condition 23 of the General Conditions of Entitlement
Relevant Instrument: General Condition 23 (GC23) concerning the Sales and Marketing of Mobile Telephony Services.

Ofcom has now concluded this investigation.

The investigation covered both Orange direct (retail stores, telesales, online) and indirect sales channels (resellers), and the Relevant Period for this investigation (over which we investigated Orange’s compliance with GC23) was 1 February to 31 August 2011. As part of the investigation, we gathered and assessed a number of forms of evidence. These included Orange’s response to formal information requests, witness statements collected by Ofcom from individuals who had complained to us (where their sales interaction with Orange fell within the Relevant Period), and mobile mis-selling complaints received by Ofcom during 2011.

Following a thorough assessment of all the evidence gathered, Ofcom has decided not to take any further enforcement action at this stage. Our reasons for this are as follows:

  • The information and evidence examined by Ofcom through the investigation did not highlight systemic compliance issues, or a significant pattern of any kind of conduct consistent with a breach of GC23 over the Relevant Period.
  • Orange had already started to make improvements to its processes and systems to facilitate increased compliance with its obligations under GC23 in the following areas:
  • Better monitoring of complaints and retailer feedback (for both direct and indirect sales channels).
  • The introduction of a Compliance Manager for indirect sales and improved visibility of performance by Orange’s individual sub-dealers.
  • An increased focus on compliance monitoring and auditing in its retail sales channels.
  • More systematic tracking of staff training in the retail sales channels.

However, Ofcom did identify some areas of weakness in respect of Orange’s compliance with GC23 during the investigation. Ofcom has accepted written assurances from Orange in respect of those weaknesses and how it will address them moving forward. In summary, the assurances which we have accepted cover the following four key areas:

i) Strengthening Orange’s approach to validating (-1-) telesales.

ii) Ensuring that Orange customers receive a sufficiently completed Customer Information Form, containing details of the contract, in the Retail channel.

iii) Improving the visibility of the information that Orange provides to consumers at the Point of Sale regarding contract termination procedures.

iv) Improving Orange’s system for ensuring that welcome and upgrade letters are sent to customers.

We will remain engaged with Orange on the areas identified so that we are satisfied that these improvements are implemented and will be sustained.

Text published when case was opened

Ofcom has opened this investigation following complaints from consumers who claim to have been mis-sold a mobile telephony service by Orange.

Ofcom's investigation will examine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that Orange has failed to comply with the requirements of GC23 concerning the mis-selling prohibition (GC23.2), the provision of information at the point of sale (GC23.5) and its obligation with regards to Mobile Service Retailers (GC23.4). The investigation will also explore Oranges compliance with other sections of GC23 as appropriate.

Case Leader: Jasminder Oberoi (email: jasminder.oberoi@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/01074/09/11

Footnotes:

  1.- This is the process for checking that Orange agents seek positive acceptance of an offer by the customer, and exists to help ensure that customers receive what they believe they have signed up to.