Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.

Own-initiative investigation: Monitoring and enforcement of Fixed-Line Provider’s compliance with rules concerning their sales and marketing activities and their use of Cancel Other

22 Medi 2014

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative investigation
Investigation against: Communications Providers who provide fixed-line telecommunications services and who engage in sales and marketing activity and/or use Cancel Other.
Case opened: 18 March 2010
Case closed: 22 September 2014
Issue: Compliance with the rules related to sales and marketing and use of Cancel Other during the transfer process.
Relevant instrument: General Condition 24 and/or 1.2 of the General Conditions of Entitlement

Following the publication of the Consumer Switching Statement on 20 December 2013, General Condition 24 has been revoked and is replaced by a modified General Condition 22 which came into effect on 20 September 2014.

This modified General Condition 22 has incorporated the provisions previously set out in General Condition 24 and also includes new provisions. Accordingly, we have today closed the General Condition 24 Monitoring and Enforcement Programme and opened a new General Condition 22 Monitoring and Enforcement Programme in its place. 

Update note: 31 March 2014

Ofcom has decided to continue its programme of active monitoring and enforcement until 20 September 2014. During this period Ofcom will continue to collect and monitor complaint and industry data, examining any evidence which suggests that communications providers may not be complying with the sales and marketing rules contained within General Condition 24.

This investigation will also monitor communications providers' conduct following receipt of a request to transfer its customer to a new communications provider, in particular assessing the use of the anti-slamming cancellation process (Cancel Other).
Ofcom will open investigations and/or take direct enforcement action under this programme where required.

Ofcom has opened an own-initiative investigation into Universal Utilities (trading as Unicom) following complaints from consumers as well as an assessment of evidence submitted by Unicom. Further details can be found here.

From 20 September 2014, General Condition 24 will be revoked and a modified General Condition 22 will take effect, in accordance with the decision published in our Consumer Switching December 2013 statement.

End of update note

Update note: 21 March 2013

Ofcom has decided to continue its programme of active monitoring and enforcement for a further 12 month period. During this period Ofcom will continue to collect and monitor complaint and industry data, examining any evidence which suggests that communications providers may not be complying with the sales and marketing rules contained within General Condition 24.

This investigation will also monitor communications providers conduct following receipt of a request to transfer its customer to a new communications provider, in particular assessing the use of the anti-slamming cancellation process (Cancel Other).

Ofcom will open investigations and/or take direct enforcement action under this programme where required.

End of update note

Update note: 12 July 2012

A non-confidential version of the Confirmation Decision issued to Axis Telecom Limited on 18 May 2012 under section 96C of the Communications Act 2003 is now available (see related items).

End of update note

Update note: 21 May 2012

Having considered Axis Telecom Limited's (Axis) representations on the matters notified in the notification under section 96A of the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom is satisfied that between 26 May 2011 and 21 September 2011 (the Relevant Period) Axis contravened GC24 and specifically the provisions relating to the use of Cancel Other by:

  • using Cancel Other for reasons other than those specified as permissible in GC24.14;
  • failing to take reasonable steps to establish that Slamming and/or Failure to Cancel had actually taken place, as required by GC24.15, before using Cancel Other in cases of Slamming and/or Failure to Cancel;
  • where Axis was the Losing Communications Provider, attempting to induce consumers to terminate their contract with the Gaining Communications Provider and/or remain in a contract with Axis, through the use of marketing statements or representations in its communications with the Customer, contrary to GC24.18.

Therefore, on 18 May 2012 Ofcom issued Axis with a Confirmation Decision under section 96C of the Act. The Confirmation Decision confirms the steps that Axis must take to comply with the Cancel Other requirements of GC24 and to remedy the consequences of its contravention. The Confirmation Decision also imposes a fine of £30,000 on Axis in respect of its contravention of GC24 during the Relevant Period. A non-confidential version of the Confirmation Decision is currently being prepared and will be published shortly.

Axis' compliance with GC24 will continue to be monitored as part of this monitoring and enforcement programme.

End of update note

Update Note: 22 March 2012

Ofcom has decided to continue its programme of active monitoring and enforcement for a further 12 month period. During this period Ofcom will continue to collect and monitor complaint and industry data, examining any evidence which suggests that communications providers may not be complying with the sales and marketing rules contained within General Condition 24.

This investigation will also monitor communications providers conduct following receipt of a request to transfer its customer to a new communications provider, in particular assessing the use of the anti-slamming cancellation process (Cancel Other).

Ofcom will open investigations and/or take direct enforcement action under this programme where required.

End of update note

Update note: 14 March 2012

Following an investigation, Ofcom has determined that there are reasonable grounds for believing that Axis Telecom Limited ("Axis") has contravened GC24 and has therefore issued a notification to Axis under section 96A of the Communications Act 2003. The specific contravention relates to Axis' use of Cancel Other. Axis now has an opportunity to make representations on the matters contained in the notification.

End of update note

Update note (i): 27 January 2012

Since issuing the Notification to Docklands Telecom Centre Limited ("DTC Direct") on 12 September 2011, Ofcom has closely monitored the steps DTC Direct has taken to comply with the requirements of the Notification and the effects these actions have had in bringing it into compliance with GC24.

Having carefully considered DTC Direct's representations, Ofcom considers that further enforcement action is not required and on that basis is closing this case. DTC Direct's compliance with GC24 will continue to be monitored as part of this monitoring and enforcement programme.

End of update note

Update note (ii): 27 January 2012

Ofcom issued the Notification to Sensim Telecom Limited ("Sensim") on 12 September 2011.

Having carefully considered Sensim's representations, Ofcom considers that further enforcement action is not required and on that basis closed this case on 3 November 2011.

End of update note

Update note (iii): 27 January 2012

Since issuing the Notification to Save Money on Calls.net.Limited ("Save Money on Calls") on 21 April 2011, Ofcom closely monitored the steps Save Money on Calls took to comply with the requirements of the Notification and the effects these actions had in bringing it into compliance with GC24.

Having carefully considered Save Money on Calls' representations, Ofcom considered that further enforcement action was not required and on that basis closed this case. Save Money on Calls compliance with GC24 will continue to be monitored as part of this monitoring and enforcement programme.

End of update note

Update note (i): 9 November 2011

A non-confidential version of the Notification issued to Sensim Telecom Limited on 12 September 2011 under section 94 of the Communications Act 2003 is now available (see related items).

End of update note

Update note (ii): 9 November 2011

A non-confidential version of the Notification issued to Docklands Telecom Centre Limited on 12 September 2011 under section 94 of the Communications Act 2003 is now available (see related items).

End of update note

Update note (i): 14 September 2011

On 12 September 2011 Ofcom issued a Notification to Sensim Telecom Limited (Sensim) under section 94 of the Communications Act 2003, for contravention of General Condition 24 (GC24). This specific contravention relates to Sensims use of Cancel Other.

Ofcom has reasonable grounds for believing that between 1 February 2011 and 25 May 2011, Sensim misused Cancel Other by:

  • using it for reasons other than those specified as permissible;
  • failing to ensure that Slamming and/ or Failure to Cancel has occurred prior to using Cancel Other;
  • in the process of complying with other requirements of GC24, attempting to induce consumers through marketing statements or representations to terminate their contract with the Gaining Communications Provider and/or remain in a contract with Sensim.

GC24 and accompanying guidance on the use of Cancel Other is available here.

  • Sensim has until 5pm on 14 October 2011 to make representations to Ofcom about the matters set out in the Notification. If by this date Sensim does not comply with GC24 and/or fails to remedy fully the consequences of its breach of GC24 as set out in the Notification, Ofcom may issue an enforcement notification under section 95 of the Act and/or may impose a penalty on Sensim under section 96 of the Act.

A non-confidential version of the Notification is currently being prepared and will be published shortly.

End of update note

Update note (ii): 14 September 2011

On 12 September 2011 Ofcom issued a Notification to Docklands Telecom Centre Limited (DTC Direct) under section 94 of the Communications Act 2003, for contravention of General Condition 24 (GC24). This specific contravention relates to DTC Direct's use of Cancel Other.

Ofcom has reasonable grounds for believing that between 18 March 2010 and 23 May 2011, DTC Direct misused Cancel Other by attempting to induce consumers through marketing statements or representations to terminate their contract with the Gaining Communications Provider and/or remain in a contract with DTC Direct.

GC24 and accompanying guidance on the use of Cancel Other is available here.

  • DTC Direct has until 5pm on 14 October 2011 to make representations to Ofcom about the matters set out in the Notification. If by this date DTC Direct does not comply with GC24 and/or fails to remedy fully the consequences of its breach of GC24 as set out in the Notification, Ofcom may issue an enforcement notification under section 95 of the Act and/or may impose a penalty on DTC Direct under section 96 of the Act.

A non-confidential version of the Notification is currently being prepared and will be published shortly.

End of update note

Update note: 26 April 2011

A non-confidential version of the Notification issued to Save Money On Calls on 21 April 2011 under section 94 of the Communications Act 2003 is now available (see related items).

End of update note

Update note: 21 April 2011

Ofcom has today issued a Notification to Save Money On Calls.net Ltd (Save Money On Calls) under section 94 of the Communications Act 2003, for contraventions of General Condition 24 (GC24). These specific contraventions relate to Save Money on Calls' use of Cancel Other.

Ofcom has reasonable grounds for believing that between 18 March 2010 and 1 November 2010, Save Money On Calls misused Cancel Other by:

  • using it for reasons other than those specified as permissible;
  • failing to ensure that Slamming and/ or Failure to Cancel has occurred prior to using Cancel Other;
  • failing to provide the appropriate information to consumers when it has been used; and
  • in the process of complying with other requirements of GC24, attempting to induce consumers through marketing statements or representations to terminate their contract with the Gaining Communications Provider and/or remain in a contract with Save Money On Calls.

GC24 and accompanying guidance on the use of Cancel Other is available here.

  • Save Money On Calls has until 5pm on 30 May 2011 to make representations to Ofcom about the matters set out in the Notification. If by this date Save Money On Calls does not comply with GC24 and/or fails to remedy fully the consequences of its breach of GC24 as set out in the Notification, Ofcom may issue an enforcement notification under section 95 of the Act and/or may impose a penalty on Save Money On Calls under section 96 of the Act.

A non-confidential version of the Notification is currently being prepared and will be published shortly.

End of Update note

Update Note 17 March 2011

As outlined in Ofcoms Draft Annual Plan 2011-12, tackling the problem of fixed-line mis-selling remains a major work area for Ofcom for the year ahead. As such, Ofcom has decided to continue this programme of active monitoring and enforcement for a further 12 month period.

During this period Ofcom will continue to collect and monitor complaint and industry data, examining any evidence which suggests that communications providers may not be complying with the sales and marketing rules contained within General Condition 24.

This investigation will also monitor communications providers conduct following receipt of a request to transfer its customer to a new communications provider, in particular assessing the use of the anti-slamming cancellation process (Cancel Other).

Ofcom will open investigations and/or take direct enforcement action under this programme where required.

End of update note

Update Note 20 September 2010

Ofcom has decided to continue its programme of active monitoring and enforcement for a further 6 month period. During this time Ofcom will continue to collect and analyse industry and complaints data, examining any evidence which suggests that communications providers have failed to comply with the requirements of General Condition 24 and/or 1.2.

Ofcom will open investigations and/or take direct enforcement action under this programme where required.

End of Update Note

Following the consultation Protecting Consumers from Mis-selling of Fixed-Line Telecommunications Services, Ofcom published a statement on 18 December 2009 introducing new sales and marketing rules as well as rules concerning the use of Cancel Other. These rules are included in a new General Condition 24 (GC 24) on the Sales and Marketing of Fixed Line Telecommunications Services and came into force on 18 March 2010. The wording of GC 24 can be found here.

Included in its provisions, GC 24:

  • explicitly prohibits inappropriate sales and marketing activity;
  • confirms the type and level of information that needs to be made available to new customers both at the point of sale and after the sale has been concluded (but before the service has actually been transferred). This includes providing important information about the key terms and conditions of the service, including contractual liabilities and cancellation rights; and
  • specifies record-keeping requirements for sales and marketing activities.

GC 24 also introduces new rules to make clear when providers are allowed to cancel orders placed by others to protect their customers from slamming (-1-) (known in the industry as Cancel Other) under GC 24, providers are prohibited from cancelling orders for purposes other than for those slamming reasons expressly specified by the regulations. For more information about the use of Cancel Other please see below.

Use of Cancel Other under GC 24

Cancel Other is a consumer protection mechanism designed to ensure that customers are not switched to another provider without their permission.

Therefore, Cancel Other should only be used in certain circumstances, in particular, where the customer believes they are a victim of slamming.

Under GC 24 Cancel Other must only be used by the losing provider in the following circumstances:

a) where slamming has occured;

1.where the customer confirms that they were never contacted by the gaining provider (Cancel Other code 9X50);
2.where the customer confirms that there has been contact with the gaining provider, but they had not given the gaining provider authorisation to transfer some or all of its telephone calls and/or line rental to the gaining provider (Cancel Other code 9X20);
3. where the customer confirms that they agreed to purchase a product or service from the gaining provider and the gaining provider has submitted a request for a different product or service which the customer has not agreed to purchase (Cancel Other code 9X70); or
4. where the customer confirms that they agreed to transfer some or all of its telephone calls and/or line rental to the gaining provider having understood, as a result of a deliberate attempt by the gaining provider to mislead, that it is making an agreement with a different communications provider (Cancel Other code 9X60);

b) at the customers request, where the gaining provider has failed to cancel the request after being directed by the customer to do so (Failure to Cancel);

c) where the telephone line is or will be, ceased during the Transfer Period (Line Cease);

d) for other specified reasons not related to a customers request to cancel a transfer, and agreed by the relevant industry forum and approved by Ofcom; and

e) in such other circumstances as defined by Ofcom.

Cancel Other should not be used by the losing provider to frustrate the transfer process, particularly in situations where, for example, the customer has not yet paid their bill, the notice period has not been served or where disconnection or termination charges apply.

hese charges should be included in the final bill, and settled in accordance with standard payment terms.

GC 24 applies to all companies who sell fixed-line telephone services to domestic and small business customers.

To ensure providers comply with the requirements of GC24, Ofcom has launched this monitoring and enforcement programme which will collect industry data and monitor complaints about providers.

Ofcom will open individual investigations and/or take direct enforcement action under this Programme where required.

If you are a consumer and would like advice in relation to fixed-line mis-selling or providers mis-use of Cancel Other please contact Ofcom's Advisory Team on 020 7981 3040 or 0300 123 3333

Case Leader: Jonathan Ruff ( e-mail: jonathan.ruff@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/01045/03/10