Own-initiative investigation against Gio Internet Limited about a potential breach of General Condition 14

17 January 2005

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative investigation
Complaint against: Gio Internet Limited (“Gio”)
Case opened: 14 January 2005
Case closed: 18 May 2005
Issue: Implementation and compliance with a code of practice for complaints and a dispute resolution scheme

Relevant instrument: General Condition 14 of the General Conditions of Entitlement (“Condition 14”) which governs codes of practice and dispute resolution.

Ofcom’s investigation found that Gio has failed to implement and comply with a dispute resolution scheme, and has failed to establish and maintain procedures that conform to any applicable code of practice for complaints.

Ofcom therefore has reasonable grounds for believing that Gio is contravening or has contravened Condition 14. Condition 14 requires all UK communications providers to provide customers with effective complaints procedures including access to an approved dispute resolution scheme where complaints and disputes between the parties have reached deadlock.

Pursuant to section 94(1) of the Communications Act 2003 ("the Act"), Ofcom has issued a notification to Gio setting out its failure to comply with Condition 14 and giving Gio until 1 July 2005 to comply with Condition 14. Please see the related item.

If Gio does not comply with Condition 14 by this date, Ofcom may issue an enforcement notification under section 95 of the Act and/or may impose a penalty on Gio under section 96 of the Act.

Ofcom notes recent reports of Gio's decision not to take on new customers and to cancel services to its existing customers. Nevertheless, Ofcom expects Gio to comply with the General Conditions and in particular General Condition 14.

As part of the investigation, on 14 February 2005 Ofcom issued an information request to Gio under section 135 of the Act. Ofcom has not received a response to this section 135 information request.

Therefore Ofcom has today also issued Gio with a section 138 notification under the Act. This notification gives Gio until 20 June 2005 to provide the specified information originally requested on 14 February 2005 . Gio also has until 20 June 2005 to make representations about the matters notified in the section 138 notification.

Section 138 notifications may be given where Ofcom has reasonable grounds for believing that a person is contravening, or has contravened a requirement imposed under section 135 or 136 of the Act.

Case Leader: Ian Vaughan (email: Ian .Vaughan @ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00810/12/04

Text published when the case was opened

Complainant : Ofcom own-initiative investigation
Complaint against: Gio Internet Limited ("Gio")
Case opened: 14 January 2005
Issue: Implementation and compliance with a code of practice for complaints and a dispute resolution scheme
Relevant instrument: General Condition 14 of the General Conditions of Entitlement, which governs codes of practice and dispute resolution.

Ofcom has received a growing number of complaints over the last 12 months from consumers dissatisfied with Gio. Gio does not appear to have a code of practice for complaints and is not currently a member of an alternate dispute resolution ("ADR") scheme. Therefore, Ofcom is unable to direct consumers to an ADR scheme where the consumer has exhausted Gio's complaints procedure and a 'deadlock' has been reached.

General Condition 14 places an obligation on a Communications Provider, such as Gio, to, among other things, implement and comply with a dispute resolution scheme, and to establish and maintain procedures that conform to any applicable code of practice for complaints. This would include complying with a final decision of the dispute resolution body (following a referral to the scheme), which is made in connection with that scheme.

The Communications Act 2003 requires Ofcom to ensure that Communications Providers in the UK have in place a code of practice for complaints and provides access to a dispute resolution scheme for their domestic and small business customers (where a small business is one with 10 or fewer employees/volunteers).

Ofcom has therefore opened an investigation into Gio's compliance with General Condition 14.

Case Leader : Ian Vaughan (Ian.Vaughan@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00810/12/04