There are now lots of companies competing to offer telephone and broadband services to consumers.
Competition has many benefits, including choice and ultimately lower prices.
Companies use a variety of sales and marketing activities to gain customers and while the majority of these are carried out responsibly, some companies may attempt to gain customers through dishonest activities such as mis-selling.
There are various forms of mis-selling, one of which is known as “slamming” which is where customers are switched - or attempted to be switched - from one company to another without their express knowledge and/or consent.
In some cases, you might only be aware of this once you’ve received a bill from a different company.
Ofcom considers slamming to be totally unacceptable and an extreme form of mis-selling.
Tackling slamming remains an important priority are for Ofcom and we have introduced tough rules to clamp down on slamming. Telecoms firms found breaching our rules can face fines of up to 10 per cent of their annual turnover
In March 2010 Ofcom introduced strengthened regulations (for residential and small business customers) designed to protect consumers from the risks of mis-selling and slamming of telephone services. These regulations were further strengthened in June 2015 extending the rules to mis-selling and slamming of broadband services.
The rules, called General Condition 22:
Ofcom actively monitors compliance with these rules through our monitoring and enforcement programme which allows us to take action against companies who do not comply with the regulations.
Ofcom also speaks to phone companies regularly. The data we collect from them about mis-selling also helps us decide whether an investigation is required
Here are some tips to help you avoid being “slammed”:
There are a number of safeguards built into the switching process for telephone and broadband services, which have been designed to ensure that you are protected from being “slammed”:
You will receive a letter from your old phone company, and also one from the new company informing you that you are moving provider and the date that the transfer is due to take place.
If you don’t want to move to a new phone company, you should contact the provider who has taken over your service and tell them 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, you can contact your current provider and ask them 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 before the scheduled transfer date.
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, you should follow their official complaints procedure. If your dispute is still unresolved, and you are a residential or small business customer, you can raise the matter with the relevant Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme If you are a business customer of over 10 employees then you will need to seek your own independent legal advice.
Consumers continue to 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 to us taking action.
By working with us to tackle slamming, you can help bring about much wider benefits for millions of consumers and ensure that others don’t fall victim to this form of mis-selling.