UK telcos risk fines of up to 10% of their turnover if they mis-sell landline packages, under new rules that come into force tomorrow.
Regulator Ofcom says the General Condition 24 rules are essential to allow it to protect consumers by taking swift action against rogue telecoms providers that mis-sell landline services, or slam customers onto another supplier without their knowledge.
The rules replace previous General Condition regulations, which all telecoms firms are obliged to stick by under British law .
The regulator it receives around 750 complaints from consumers each month regarding slamming and mis-selling, making them the two most-complained about problems over the past year.
It will open a monitoring and enforcement programme to ensure telcos comply with the new rules, which prohibit misleading sales and marketing schemes and slamming, and require providers to keep more accurate records of any marketing programmes.
The rules also clarify the level of information new customers are entitled to when switching supplier, and clarification of when carriers can cancel orders placed by other providers.
Consumers have complained about calls from providers who claim to be a different company, being mis-informed about package costs, and providers failing to advise them of minimum contract periods or early termination costs.
“It is not acceptable for consumers to suffer from companies engaging in dishonest sales and marketing activity,” Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards states, adding. “Ofcom will not hesitate to take enforcement action against firms who don’t comply.”
The regulator has already investigated 14 companies alleged to have breached its current rules, and fined two of them the full 10% of turnover for non-compliance.