Phone or broadband switching without consent
Lots of companies compete to offer you telephone and broadband services.
Companies use different sales and marketing tools to attract customers. While most of these are done responsibly, some companies use dishonest activities such as mis-selling.
One form of mis-selling is known as ‘slamming’, where customers are switched (or attempted to be switched) from one company to another without their knowledge or consent.
You might only become aware of this after receiving a bill from a different company.
Slamming is completely unacceptable and an extreme form of mis-selling. Tackling slamming is a priority for Ofcom.
We have introduced tough rules to clamp down on slamming. Telecoms companies that break our rules face fines of up to 10% of their annual turnover.
In March 2010, we introduced stronger rules (for home and small business customers) to protect you from mis-selling and slamming. In June 2015, we extended these rules to the mis-selling and slamming of broadband services.
- prevent wrongful sales and marketing activity, including slamming;
- set out the information that new customers must receive both before and after buying a service (but before the service has actually begun). This includes information about the key terms and conditions of the service;
- require providers to keep a record of the consent a customer gives to transfer their service from their current provider to the new provider;
- make clear when providers would be allowed to cancel orders placed by other providers. Cancelling orders for purposes other than those specified in these rules is prohibited.
We keep an eye on how firms comply with these rules, and will take action against any company that does not comply with them.
We also speak to phone companies regularly. The data we collect from them about mis-selling helps us decide whether or not to launch an investigation.
- Be wary of giving out personal information over the phone.
- Only agree to something over the phone if you’re sure who you are talking to and what you’re signing up for. If you’re not sure, ask the caller to the information to you by post before you sign up to anything.
- Ask to see identification from doorstep sellers, to check that they are from the company they say they are.
- Don’t give out your financial details unless you’re certain you want to switch phone companies.
- Don’t sign anything unless you’ve read it and are sure of what you’re signing up for.
The switching process for telephone and broadband services includes measures to protect you from being slammed.
You will receive letters from your old phone company and new company to let you know you are moving provider. It will include the date that the transfer will take place.
If you don’t want to move to a new phone company, you should tell the provider who has taken over your service that you did not agree to the transfer. If you do this within 10 days, they will be able to put a stop to the transfer and you can carry on as before.
If the provider refuses to cancel the transfer, ask your current provider to cancel the transfer. This should be possible up until 24 hours before the transfer is due to complete, but it is best to do this at least 48 hours beforehand.
If the service has already transferred, ask your original provider to transfer you back to them.
If you are aware of the company involved and wish to take the matter further, follow their complaints procedure. If this does not resolve the matter, and you are a home or small business customer, raise it with the relevant Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. If you are a business customer with more than 10 employees, seek independent legal advice.
You play a vital role in helping us tackle slamming. Although we can’t investigate individual cases, your complaints can lead to us launching investigations and ultimately, taking action. You can help us make sure that others don’t fall victim to this form of mis-selling.