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Own-initiative investigation into E7even's billing for services and adherence to its Code of Practice for handling complaints

11 Medi 2006

Complainant: Own-initiative investigation, following complaints by members of the public
Complaint against: E7even UK Limited (“E7even”)
Case opened: 12 April 2006
Case closed: 17 August 2006
Issue: Whether E7even 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, 14.4 and 14.7 of the General Conditions of Entitlement ("the General Conditions")

Update note – 11 September 2006

On 29 August Ofcom issued a revised notification to E7even under section 94 of the Communications Act 2003 to clarify the regulatory obligations which apply to E7even under General Conditions 14.4 and 14.7

Accordingly, the timescales by which E7even shall complete the actions specified in the notification have been amended to  2 October 2006 . A non-confidential version of the notification has now been prepared and is available from the link below.

General Condition 14 was amended following consultation by the Notification of Modification to a General Condition “ Providing citizens and consumers with improved information about Number Translation Services and Premium Rate Services ” published by Ofcom on 19 April 2006, which came into force on 19 June 2006. As a result, General Condition 14.2, as referred to in the opening note below, and General Condition 14.4 have been renumbered to General Condition 14.4 and General Condition 14.7 respectively. The obligations have not changed and only the numbering in General Condition 14 has. A ny references to the operation of these obligations prior to 19 June 2006 will be in respect of General Condition 14.2 and General Condition 14.4.

End of update note

Ofcom has issued a Notification to E7even under Section 94 of the Communications Act 2003. Ofcom will continue to monitor that E7even complies with Ofcom's Notification and will take any further enforcement action necessary.

Ofcom's investigation found that there were reasonable grounds for believing that E7even contravened the regulatory rule requiring communications providers to establish and maintain an approved Code of Practice for the handling of complaints (General Condition 14.4), and failing to issue compensation promised to customers.

Ofcom's investigation also found that there were reasonable grounds for believing that E7even contravened the regulatory rule requiring E7even to be a member of an alternative dispute resolution scheme (“ADR scheme”) so that customers could benefit from the protection that access to an ADR scheme provides (General Condition 14.7).

Specifically, E7even has failed and is failing to comply with the conditions of membership of the Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman (“ Otelo”), including final decisions made by Otelo in relation to complaints about broadband services supplied to its customers.

The Section 94 notification issued by Ofcom requires E7even to comply with the requirements of General Conditions 14.4 and 14.7, and to remedy fully any consequences arising from its failure to comply with those General Conditions.

Ofcom has reserved its position with respect to a further regulatory rule requiring that communications providers not render bills to customers unless the bill accurately reflects the true extent of the services provided (General Condition 11.1) and will consider whether to take action under this General Condition once it has seen whether consumers are able to secure adequate outcomes as a result of this Notification.

Given that E7even is now required to comply with regulatory rules and to remedy any consequences of its failure to comply, Ofcom would expect that the steps E7even takes may include, but are not limited to:

  • complying with all relevant rules of membership of Otelo for its period of membership, including payment of case fees and complying with past and present decisions, including payment of compensation to consumers and small business customers;
  • joining a Dispute Resolution Scheme, either Otelo or CISAS, to ensure that consumers have access to a body that can resolve their individual complaints regarding E7even; and
  • ensuring that it complies with an approved code of practice for handling complaints.

E7even has until 18 September 2006 to comply, to remedy any consequences and to make representations to Ofcom.

If E7even does not comply, Ofcom will consider whether further enforcement action, including a fine, is appropriate.

Ofcom considers that the investigation of outstanding individual complaints by an ADR scheme such as Otelo, combined with the requirement that E7even comply with previous Otelo decisions regarding the payment of compensation to affected E7even customers, is the action most likely to secure redress for E7even's former customers in this case.

Separately today Ofcom has published a consultation: Broadband Migrations: Enabling Consumer Choice . Amongst other things, the consultation sets out Ofcom's proposals for amendments to the regulatory rules to ensure that situations such as those faced by E7even's customers do not happen again. See Related Items above.

A non-confidential version of the Notification and the accompanying Explanatory Statement are currently being prepared and will be published shortly.

Case Leader : Anthony Szynkaruk (020 7783 4341 email: anthony.szynkaruk@ofcom.org.uk )
Case Reference: CW/00898/03/06

Text published when the case was opened

Own-initiative investigation into E7even's 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
: E7even UK Limited (“E7even”)
Case opened : 12 April 2006
Issue : Whether E7even 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 ("the General Conditions")

Ofcom has opened an investigation to consider whether E7even 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 E7even 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 a number of consumer complaints that Ofcom has received regarding the provision of broadband services by E7even. If Ofcom's investigation concludes that E7even is not complying with its obligations under the General Conditions, Ofcom will decide what action is appropriate to ensure that consumer interests are protected.

Case Leader : Anthony Szynkaruk (email: anthony.szynkaruk@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference : CW/00898/03/06