Ofcom call for better broadband speed honesty

 

Most of us are broadband users and most of us have complained about broadband speed  have we not? Today (6th October 2017) Ofcom proposed to strengthen the current codes to improve speed estimates provided at the point of sale, after sale and in customer contracts and to enhance customers’ right to exit.

 

 

 

The proposals:

• Improve speed information at the point of sale and in contracts, by reflecting the slower speeds people can experience at ‘peak’ times; and by ensuring providers always give a minimum guaranteed speed before sale.
• Strengthen the right to exit if speeds fall below a guaranteed minimum level. Providers would have a limited time to improve speeds before they must let customers walk away penalty-free. For the first time, this right to exit would also apply to contracts that include phone and pay-TV services bought with broadband.
• Increase the number of customers who benefit from the Codes, by expanding their scope to apply to all broadband technologies.

Ofcom has a voluntary code of practice for residential and business broadband providers. This code requires companies to provide estimates of the speeds customers are likely to receive at the point of sale. It also ensures that customers are able to exit their contracts, without penalty, if their speed falls below a minimum level.

Sound good? Hmm not really when you consider that 1) Ofcom says “This does not guarantee compliance but we expect signatories to commit to honour the letter and spirit of the Code. We will monitor compliance with the Code using measures such as ongoing mystery shopping” and 2) only:

  • BT
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
  • KC
  • EE
  • Talk Talk
  • Vodafone
  • Zen Internet

have signed up to the code and as a Virgin customer who has taken them to the Ombudsman 3 times and won all three times (on different issues) I don’t suppose many people have fared any better with this issue, but anyway I digress…

The consultation is 40 pages long. However, if you go to page 40 you will see the questions which it is asking. The big question should all this be compulsory? Not there. For crying out loud! Expecting telecom companies to be honest in their advertising is not going to be compulsory! The closing date for consultation is the 10th November 2017.

You can still complain though! (I would say that, but you can!)

How to complain about broadband speeds/service interruptions

For more on all things telecoms see All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

And if you need more information on your consumer rights, advice, templates and general guidance and tips GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

Preventing and complaining about nuisance calls and Ofcom’s record fine

Record fine for firm behind nearly 100 million nuisance calls
A company behind 99.5million nuisance calls has been fined a record £400,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Keurboom Communications Ltd, a company behind 99.5 million nuisance calls has been issued the ICO’s highest ever nuisance calls fine after more than 1,000 people complained about recorded (also known as automated – calls). £400,000

The calls, made over an 18 month period, related to a wide range of subjects including road traffic accident claims and PPI compensation. Some people received repeat calls, sometimes on the same day and during unsociable hours. The company also hid its identity, making it harder for people to complain.

Companies can only make automated marketing calls to people if they have their specific consent. Keurboom did not have consent so was in breach of the law.

Steve Eckerlsey, Head of Enforcement at the ICO said: “Keurboom showed scant regard for the rules, causing upset and distress to people unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of one its 100million calls. “The unprecedented scale of its campaign and Keurboom’s failure to co-operate with our investigation has resulted in the largest fine issued by the Information Commissioner for nuisance calls.”

During the investigation, the ICO issued seven information notices ordering the company, which is registered in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, to provide information to the regulator. When it failed to comply, Keurboom Communications Ltd and its director, Gregory Rudd, were prosecuted and fined at Luton Magistrates’ Court in April 2016.

Following the ICO’s investigation, Keurboom Communications Ltd has been placed in voluntary liquidation. The ICO is committed to recovering the fine by working with the liquidator and insolvency practitioners.

The ICO’s powers will be further strengthened when the government introduces a new law allowing it to fine the company directors behind nuisance call firms. Making directors responsible will stop them avoiding fines by putting their company into liquidation.

In 2016/17, the ICO had its busiest year for nuisance calls issuing 23 companies a total of £1.923 million for nuisance marketing.

The previous record nuisance call fine was in February 2016, when the ICO fined Prodial, a lead generation company, £350,000 for making 46 million nuisance calls.

So what can you do to prevent many of these nuisance calls?
Sign up for TPS. The Telephone Preference Service. You can register both your landline
and mobile numbers. It doesn’t stop them all but it certainly reduces it. As for the ones it
doesn’t stop, report them. It is the law that companies must check names and numbers
against the TPS register so they are breaking the law if you are registered and they
contact you. Allow 28 days for it to be all registered. TPS is not able to enforce the law or
fine, but does pass the information onto the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
If you have consented to receive marketing calls then you will still get these even if you
are registered with TPS. Watch out for comparison and other sites and make sure that
box is unchecked for wanting marketing emails.

For silent and abandoned calls, (frequently caused by automated systems dropping
calls as soon as one is answered) contact Ofcom. Abandoned calls are where you hear a
recorded message and there is a standard form online to report these calls. Ofcom won’t
take action on individual complaints, however, once it gets a large number regarding
the same company it will take action. In 2013 it fined Talk Talk £750,000 for an excessive
number of silent and abandoned calls. So report these kinds of calls. The form is simple
and quick to fill out.

For unwanted marketing calls, contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). In
May 2011 it was given powers to impose a fine up to £500,000 on companies who break
the rules on unsolicited texts and phone calls.