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

Own-initiative investigation into the Post Office Limited - adherence to its Code of Practice governing sales and marketing activity

09 Gorffennaf 2007

Complainant: Own-initiative investigation, following complaints by members of the public
Complaint against: The Post Office Limited (“the Post Office”)
Case opened: 18 December 2006
Case closed: 15 June 2007
Issue: Whether the Post Office have complied with obligations under relevant consumer protection legislation and the requirement to have a Code of Practice for Sales and Marketing activity.
Relevant instrument: General Condition 14.5 of the General Conditions of Entitlement governing the requirement to establish, and comply with, a code of practice for sales and marketing activity.

Update note – 9 July 2007

A non-confidential version of the notification issued to the Post Office under Section 94 of the Communications Act 2003 on 15 June 2007 has now been prepared and can be found at the link below.

End of update note

Ofcom’s investigation has concluded that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the Post Office has failed to comply with its Code of Practice as required by General Condition 14.5(b) in three respects:

  • failing to ensure that its sales agents give factual and accurate information with regard to various aspects of its HomePhone service and sales process;
  • failing to ensure that its sales agents explain clearly the nature of the commitment customers are making when entering into a contract;
  • failing to ensure that its sales agents take special care with those people who may be considered vulnerable customers.

On 15 June 2007 Ofcom therefore issued a notification under Section 94 of the Communications Act 2003 to the Post Office regarding breaches of Ofcom’s rules concerning sales and marketing. The notification sets out that Ofcom considers that the Post Office has contravened GC14.5(b).

Ofcom believes that the evidence collected and the past high complaint levels, provide reasonable grounds for believing that the Post Office has not complied with the provisions of its Code of Practice for Sales and Marketing activity. The complaints mainly concerned customers believing they were requesting information rather than understanding that they were actually signing up to change their telephone provider to the Post Office’s HomePhone service. Evidence from sample verification calls provided by the Post Office supports these findings.

Specific areas of concern established in the investigation and set out in the notification are:

  • potential customers believing that they were signing up to receive information only when they were, in fact, being transferred to the Post Office’s Home Phone service; and
  • failure of the Post Office to have specific procedures in place for sales staff when dealing with particular vulnerable customers, despite having a commitment to “take special care” in relation to such customers in the Code.

During the course of its investigation Ofcom did not make any finding with respect to the question of whether the Post Office is contravening GC14.5 on an ongoing basis. Since commencing its investigation Ofcom has received material from the Post Office setting out changes it has made to its procedures and practices.

The Post Office has until 16 July 2007 to make representations to Ofcom about the matters set out in the notification and accompanying Explanatory Statement.

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

Text published when case opened

Ofcom has opened this investigation following complaints from consumers who claimed to have been mis-sold the ‘HomePhone’ fixed-line telephone service by the Post Office or have had their service switched without their consent.

Ofcom's investigation will examine whether the Post Office has failed to comply with the requirements of its Code of Practice for Sales and Marketing activity. General Condition 14.5 requires that communications providers establish, and comply with, a Code of Practice for sales and marketing.

This investigation continues a sequence of investigations Ofcom has commenced or will be pursuing into alleged misconduct by individual communications providers. These investigations form part of a wider campaign that includes an active enforcement programme (CW/00838) to monitor mis-selling in fixed-line telecoms and thereby protecting consumers from abuses such as ‘slamming' and mis-selling.

Case Leader : Sue Merrifield ( e-mail:sue.merrifield@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference : CW/00940/12/06