Investigation into Met Technologies and Guaranteed Telecom’s compliance with slamming rules
|Investigation into||Met Technologies and Guaranteed Telecom’s compliance with slamming rules|
|Case opened||20 November 2019|
|Case closed||12 November 2021|
This investigation examined whether Met Technologies Limited and Guaranteed Telecom Limited had complied with their obligations under General Condition (‘GC’) C7, in particular C7.3(a) by ensuring that they did not engage in slamming.”
|Relevant legal provision(s)||
General Condition (GC) C7
Following our investigation, Ofcom has today issued a Confirmation Decision to each of Guaranteed Telecom and Met Technologies under section 96C of the Communications Act 2003 (the “Act”) for contravening General Condition (GC) C7.3(a), GC C7.7 and GC C7.14(a).
In light of the evidence, Ofcom is satisfied that between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2019 (the Relevant Period), Guaranteed Telecom and Met Technologies contravened:
- GC C7.3(a) by slamming (i.e. transferring their service without their permission) at least 110 customers (at least 43 and 67 respectively), and in most cases, did so more than once. Slamming is a serious breach of the GCs - consumers have a fundamental right to choose their communications provider and should not have their services transferred without their knowledge or express consent.
- GC C7.7 by failing to create and keep, between them, at least 346 (107 and 239 respectively) individually retrievable direct records in respect of those 110 customers consenting to switch their services to them (for example, call recordings of the consumer consenting to switch). This requirement is specifically intended to deter providers from slamming consumers, and to help Ofcom in our investigations into alleged slamming.
- GC C7.14(a) by using Cancel Other (a mechanism that losing providers can use in specific situations - as set out in the conditions - to cancel a request to transfer a customer) in a way that is not consistent with the accompanying Annex 1 to GC C7, to prevent at least 52 customers between them (27 and 25 respectively), that they had slammed, from switching to another provider. Cancel Other should only be used in very limited circumstances, such as if a customer is being slammed (by another provider). Using it as a means to prevent customers from legitimately transferring to another provider limits the choice of consumers.
While these GCs are all individually vital in protecting consumers, they also work together as a multi-layered arrangement to ensure consumers are protected. In this particular case, the harm was intensified because the providers made repeated attempts to take over consumers’ communications services without their consent. The degree of harm was significantly increased where customers were not only slammed but were then also prevented from switching away from the providers that had slammed their services.
Ofcom is satisfied that these were serious breaches of our rules to protect customers. Failure to comply with these rules amounts to a serious contravention because it can cause significant harm to consumers, including stress, anxiety, financial harm, as well as the time and effort that consumers spend trying to resolve the situation.
The Confirmation Decision imposes a financial penalty of £10,000 on Guaranteed Telecom and £25,000 on Met Technologies in respect of their contraventions of (GC) C7.3(a), GC C7.7 and GC C7.14(a).
In setting the penalty, we have had regard to our penalty guidelines. The penalty reflects several factors including the harm suffered by customers, the objective of deterrence, as well as the seriousness of the contraventions.
We also consider it appropriate that, to the extent they have not already done so, both Guaranteed Telecom and Met Technologies should take steps to remedy their actions and ensure future compliance of the GCs. It is important that CPs take compliance with their regulatory responsibilities seriously, monitoring relevant processes and policies appropriately to ensure that contraventions of the rules do not occur in the first instance.
A non-confidential version of the Confirmation Decision is currently being prepared and will be published shortly.
Case Leader: Maria Constantinou
Following its investigation, Ofcom has provisionally determined that there are reasonable grounds for believing that from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019, Guaranteed Telecom and Met Technologies contravened General Conditions (GC) GC7.3(a), GC C7.7 and GC C7.14.
Ofcom has therefore issued provisional notifications under section 96a of the Communications Act 2003 (the Act), setting out our reasons for our provisional decision.
Specifically, Ofcom has reasonable grounds for believing that Guaranteed Telecom and Met Technologies contravened:
- GC C7.3(a), by placing transfer orders, including repeat transfer orders, for customers’ communications services without their express knowledge and/or consent;
- GC C7.7, by failing to create and keep individually retrievable direct Records of Consent for the provision of communications services, for the required minimum period of twelve months; and
- GC C7.14(a), by using Cancel Other (a mechanism that losing providers can use in specific situations to cancel a request to transfer a customer) in a way that is not prescribed in the accompanying Annex 1 to GC C7,
Guaranteed Telecom and Met Technologies now have an opportunity to make representations to us on our provisional decision, which we will take into account before we issue a final decision.
We have opened an investigation into whether Met Technologies Limited (company no. 08127967), also trading as Met Plus Telecom and Millenium Talk, and Guaranteed Telecom Limited (company no.08962266), also trading as Zoom Telecom, complied with their obligations under General Condition (‘GC’) C7.
Specifically, this investigation is examining whether these companies have engaged in slamming by placing transfer orders, including repeat transfer orders, for switching customers’ communication services without their express knowledge and/or consent.
We will provide an update in due course.
Maria Constantinou (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)