Own-initiative investigation into Bulldog Communications’ billing for services and adherence to its Code of Practice for handling complaints

19 October 2005

Complainant: Own-initiative investigation, following complaints by members of the public
Complaint against: Bulldog Communications Limited (“Bulldog”)
Case opened: 31 August 2005
Case closed: 19 October 2005
Issue: Whether Bulldog is complying with the requirement not to issue bills to customers for services which have not been provided, and with its Code of Practice for handling complaints.
Relevant instrument: Conditions 11.1 and 14.2 of the General Conditions of Entitlement

Early in this investigation, Ofcom obtained detailed information from Bulldog relating to the operation of its business, including details of the circumstances leading to the difficulties some customers experienced during the summer.  Bulldog has also provided information concerning the changes it has made to address these difficulties.

The information Bulldog provided, and which Ofcom has carefully considered indicates that Bulldog has implemented a range of steps to improve its customer service operations. Since August 2005, a number of indicators of customer service, such as call waiting times and call abandonment rates, have shown significant improvement. Bulldog has also presented evidence to Ofcom demonstrating that it has implemented a number of improvements to both its billing and operational processes.

During the investigation, but prior to any final conclusion being reached by Ofcom in relation to possible breaches of the General Conditions, Bulldog has proposed, and Ofcom has accepted, a package of measures to address customer service issues.

Those measures comprise:

  • Details provided to Ofcom on a confidential basis of Bulldog’s processes to credit (in various forms) individual customers accounts;
  • The provision of one month’s free voice line rental to all existing customers who were customers of Bulldog‘s double play’ (voice and internet access) services for the month of July 2005. A majority of Bulldog customers are expected to receive this credit, in the November billing cycle; and
  • The provision by Bulldog to Ofcom of monthly reports for six months on seven specific metrics relating to customer service and billing issues, including call waiting times, complaint resolution times and billing errors.

Ofcom is satisfied that as a result of these measures, customers affected by Bulldog’s earlier service issues will receive, in aggregate, a material level of credit. Ofcom is also satisfied that Bulldog has put in place, and committed to adhere to through the provision of monthly reports to Ofcom, practices to help avoid any recurrence going forwards.  Accordingly, Ofcom has closed this investigation.

Ofcom’s decision to close this investigation does not involve any finding against Bulldog.  Acceptance of these commitments and the decision to close the present investigation does not prevent Ofcom from re-opening the investigation in the future, should the need arise.  However, Ofcom would not expect such a decision to be necessary where Bulldog complies with and completes all the actions set out above.  

Case Leader: William Hayter ( e-mail: William.Hayter@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00854/08/05

Text published when the case was opened  

Own-initiative investigation into Bulldog Communications’ billing for services and adherence to its Code of Practice for handling complaints

Complainant: Own-initiative investigation, following complaints by members of the public
Complaint against: Bulldog Communications Limited (“Bulldog”)
Case opened: 31 August 2005
Issue: Whether Bulldog is complying with the requirement not to issue bills to customers for services which have not been provided, and with its Code of Practice for handling complaints.
Relevant instrument: Conditions 11.1 and 14.2 of the General Conditions of Entitlement

Ofcom has opened an investigation to consider whether Bulldog has contravened General Condition 11.1, which prohibits Communications Providers from billing customers for services that have not been provided.

Ofcom will also investigate whether Bulldog has contravened General Condition 14.2, which requires Communications Providers to establish and maintain complaints-handling procedures that conform to a Code of Practice.

The opening of this investigation follows the receipt of a number of consumer complaints about these issues, including complaints referred via the Bulldog Action Group, a consumer representation group.

Case Leader: William Hayter ( e-mail:William.Hayter@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/00854/08/05