Complaint against BT about Wholesale Line Rental ("WLR") marketing activities

07 September 2004

Complainant: A member of the public
Complaint against: BT
Case opened: 6 September 2004
Case closed: 10 November 2004
Issue: Alleged misuse of information for marketing activities
Relevant instrument: General Condition 1.2 of the General Conditions of Entitlement governing the use of certain information provided in the context of Network Access arrangements, and/or the Notification of Contravention of General Condition 1.2 under Section 94 of the Communications Act 2003 issued to BT on the 11 May 2004 ('WLR Notification')

Ofcom received a complaint from a business consumer about marketing activity allegedly carried out by BT during the WLR transfer process.

As part of its investigation into this complaint, Ofcom used its formal powers under section 135 of the Communications Act 2003 to request specific marketing call information from BT along with its processes for making outgoing marketing calls and other call data records.

BT's response indicates that an outgoing marketing call to the complainant was not made by BT, but may have been placed by another communications provider who falsely identified itself as BT.

Therefore, Ofcom believes it has no evidence to suggest that BT had used information provided to it solely for the purpose of transferring a customer of one WLR Provider to another WLR provider, for a purpose other than to effect such a transfer. On this basis, Ofcom does not have reasonable grounds to believe that BT is contravening, or has contravened, the General Condition and/or the WLR Notification.

Ofcom has therefore closed its investigation.

Case Leader: Ian Vaughan (email: Ian.Vaughan@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00784/08/04

Text published when the case was opened

Complainant: A member of the public
Complaint against: BT
Case opened: 6 September 2004
Issue: Alleged misuse of information for marketing activities
Relevant instrument: Potential breach of General Condition 1.2 of the General Conditions of Entitlement governing the use of certain information provided in the context of Network Access arrangements, and/or a potential non-compliance with the Notification of Contravention of General Condition 1.2 under Section 94 of the Communications Act 2003 issued to BT on the 11 May 2004 ('WLR Notification')

Ofcom has received a complaint regarding alleged marketing activity carried out by BT Retail, directed at a business customer who was switching (referred to as transferring) between two Wholesale Line Rental ('WLR') Providers. The complainant alleges that during the transfer process he received a marketing call from BT Retail during which BT allegedly stated that it was aware of his imminent transfer between two named WLR Providers and was seeking to win his business by making him aware of several new BT packages.

Under BT's SMP Condition AA10, BT is obliged to provide a WLR product under certain terms and charges. This product allows alternative suppliers of telecoms services to rent access lines on wholesale terms from BT. These suppliers can then resell the lines to end users, supplying them with a single bill for calls and line rental.

Ofcom is concerned that BT may be using information provided to it solely for the purpose of transferring a customer of one WLR Provider to another WLR Provider, for a purpose other than to effect such a transfer; contrary to General Condition 1.2.

Additionally, in the WLR Notification, Ofcom informed BT that Ofcom had reasonable grounds for believing that it was contravening General Condition 1.2. In that Notification, Ofcom required BT not to use customer specific information acquired from another Communications Provider in connection with the provision of WLR for the purpose of carrying out marketing activities.

BT has appealed previous WLR and CPS Notifications to the Competition Appeal Tribunal. These appeals are ongoing and Ofcom will bear this in mind in deciding how to proceed with this investigation.

Case Leader: Ian Vaughan (Ian.Vaughan@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00784/08/04