Britain's biggest broadband and phone firms to put fairness first

03 June 2019

The UK’s biggest broadband, phone and pay-TV companies have pledged to put fairness at the heart of their business, after signing up to Ofcom’s new Fairness for Customers commitments.

We have introduced the commitments to improve how companies treat their customers. They aim to help ensure people are always treated fairly by their provider – whether they are signing up to a new deal, trying to fix a problem or switching to a new company.

All of the UK’s biggest providers have signed up to the commitments, including BT, EE, Giffgaff, O2, Plusnet, Post Office, Sky, TalkTalk, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone. This covers the vast majority of broadband, mobile, pay-TV and home phone customers.

Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “Great service cannot be optional. It has to be the norm. That hasn’t always happened in the past in broadband and mobile services, but there is now a growing belief from providers that putting customers first is paramount.

“So, I welcome the commitments the providers have made and the action they’re taking to ensure customers are treated fairly at every step of the way.”

Margot James, Minister for Digital, said: “I’m pleased that all the major telecoms providers have signed up to Ofcom’s commitments today. They will not only help consumers get fairer deals, but will support competition by making sure providers work to the same objectives and compete on standards.”

What are the commitments?

  • Customers get a fair deal, which is right for their needs. Providers offer customers packages that fit their needs and have a fair approach to pricing. Prices are clear and easy to understand;
  • Customers get the support they need when their circumstances make them vulnerable. Providers understand and identify the characteristics, circumstances and needs of vulnerable customers - such as vulnerability due to a disability, age, mental illness or having recently been bereaved - and act to give them fair treatment and equal access to services too;
  • Customers are supported to make well-informed decisions with clear information about their options before, during, and at the end of their contract. Providers design and send communications in a way that reflects an understanding of how customers generally react to information so that they can understand and engage with the market;
  • Customers’ services work as promised, reliably over time. If things go wrong providers give a prompt response to fix problems and take appropriate action to help their customers, which may include providing compensation where relevant. If providers can’t fix problems with core services they have promised to deliver within a reasonable period, customers can walk away from their contract with no penalty;
  • Customers can sign up to, change and leave their services quickly and smoothly. Providers ensure that customers who are leaving do not face additional barriers or hassle compared to those who are signing up to new services;
  • Customers can be confident that fair treatment is a central part of their provider’s culture. Companies can demonstrate that they have the right procedures in place to ensure customers are treated well. They keep these effective and up-to-date.

Ofcom's Fairness for Customers programme

The commitments are the latest step in our Fairness for Customers programme, which also includes:

We are also proposing clearer, fairer deals for people who buy mobile handsets bundled alongside airtime. We will announce the next steps on this later in the summer.

We are also continuing to review broadband pricing, looking at why some people pay more than others – particularly those who might find themselves in vulnerable circumstances. We expect to publish our findings on this in the autumn.