Own-initiative investigation into Supatel Limited, trading as TimeTalk, concerning its compliance with General Condition 24 – Sales and Marketing of Fixed-Line Telecommunications Services

24 September 2013

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative investigation following complaints from consumers
Investigation against: Supatel Limited trading as TimeTalk
Case Opened: 13 November 2012
Case Closed: 25 September 2013
Issue: Whether Supatel Limited trading as TimeTalk had complied with its obligations under General Condition 24 of the General Conditions of Entitlement.
Relevant Instrument: General Condition 24 (“GC24”) concerning the Sales and Marketing of Fixed-Line Telecommunications Services.

Since issuing the Confirmation Decision to Supatel on 21 June 2013, Ofcom has closely monitored the steps Supatel has taken to comply with the requirements of the Confirmation Decision and the effect these actions have had in bringing Supatel into compliance with GC24.

Having carefully considered Supatel’s representations and the steps it has taken, Ofcom considers that further enforcement action is not required and on that basis is closing this case. Supatel’s compliance with GC24 will continue to be monitored as part of Ofcom’s industry-wide monitoring and enforcement programme into GC24.

Update note: 1 August 2013

A non-confidential version of the Confirmation Decision issued to Supatel Limited, trading as timetalk, on 21 June 2013 has now been prepared and can be found under the related items.

End of update

Update note: 24 June 2013

Following an investigation into Supatel Limited (Supatel), Ofcom issued it with a Notification under section 96A of the Communications Act 2003 (the Act), as we had reasonable grounds to believe that Supatel had contravened the prohibition against “slamming” in General Condition 24 (“GC24”).

Supatel made representations to Ofcom on 25 April 2013 in relation to the matters set out in the Notification. Having considered those representations, (together with the other evidence it has collected from Supatel, Openreach and individual Customers) Ofcom is satisfied that, between 1 October 2012 and 30 November 2012 (the Relevant Period), Supatel contravened GC24 and specifically the provision relating to slamming, GC24.3(d). Supatel did so by:

  • repeatedly placing transfer requests for 83 Customer’s Fixed-Line Telecommunications Services without their express knowledge and/or consent.

Therefore, on 21 June 2013 Ofcom issued Supatel with a Confirmation Decision under section 96C of the Act. The Confirmation Decision confirms the steps that Supatel must take to comply with requirements of GC24, and GC24.3(d) in particular, and the steps Supatel must take to remedy the consequences arising from its contravention of GC24.3(d). The Confirmation Decision also imposes a fine of £60,000 on Supatel in respect of its contravention of GC24 during the Relevant Period.

Whilst taking full account of the steps it has taken in these regards, Ofcom expects that the steps Supatel must take to comply with the requirements of GC24, and GC24.3(d) in particular, are:

  • to have in place processes to ensure that Supatel, trading as timetalk, is only placing transfer orders where the Customer has express knowledge and/or has given consent to a transfer order being placed;
  • to fully document policies and procedures in relation to ensuring compliance with GC24, including an effective quality assurance process to monitor the compliance by Supatel’s, trading as timetalk, agents (both its own staff and those it contracts with) who are placing transfer orders for Fixed-Line Telecommunications Services; and
  • to provide appropriate training to all Supatel’s, trading as timetalk, agents (both its own staff and those it contracts with) who are engaged in placing transfer orders for all Supatel’s, trading as timetalk, Fixed-Line Telecommunications Services in order to ensure compliance with GC24.

Again whilst taking full account of the steps it has taken in these regards, the steps which Ofcom confirms must be taken by Supatel to remedy the consequences arising from its contravention of GC24.3(d) include but are not limited to:

  • allowing the 83 Customers to whom this contravention relates, to cease their contract with Supatel, trading as timetalk, regardless of the length of contract served, with no requirement to pay an Early Termination Charge (“ETC”) or disconnection fee and no requirement to pay any charges for services other than those the Customer has used. Where the Customer chooses to return to their previous CP, this would include compensation for any charges the Customer may incur in the process of returning to their previous CP; and
  • where these 83 Customers who may otherwise have fallen into the above category but who have already returned to their previous CP, and have incurred charges in doing so, Supatel, trading as timetalk, must compensate them for those charges.

Ofcom will now monitor Supatel to ensure that the steps outlined by Ofcom lead to full compliance with GC24 and that the appropriate remedial steps are taken.

A non-confidential version of the Confirmation Decision is currently being prepared and will be published shortly.

End of update note

Update note: 2 April 2013

Following an investigation, Ofcom has determined that there are reasonable grounds for believing that Supatel Limited (“Supatel”) has contravened GC24 of the General Conditions. Ofcom has therefore issued a Notification to Supatel under section 96A of the Communications Act 2003.

The specific contravention relates to Supatel engaging in Slamming by making requests for customers’ fixed-line telecommunications services without their express knowledge and/or consent. Supatel now has an opportunity to make representations on the matters contained in the Notification.

End of update note

Ofcom has opened this investigation following complaints from consumers who claim to have been mis-sold a fixed-line telephone service by TimeTalk or have had their service switched to TimeTalk without their consent.

Ofcom’s investigation will examine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that TimeTalk has failed to comply with the requirements of GC24 concerning the mis-selling prohibition (GC24.3) and the provision of information at the point of sale (GC24.6). The investigation will also look at TimeTalk’s compliance with other sections of GC24 as appropriate.

Case Leader: Geoff Brown (email: geoff.brown@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference:
CW/01096/11/12