Ofcom proposals--U.K. operators react

U.K. mobile operators have extended a cautious and qualified welcome to Ofcom's announcement of plans to address the problems of misselling of mobile phone contracts. The general view was that the voluntary code of conduct agreed last year was able to deal with these problems without the need for legal enforcement. If adopted, Ofcom's proposals will see the introduction of a legally enforceable code that operators will have to adhere to under the Communications Act 2003. Mobile operators would be required to ensure customers are fully informed of any contracts they are entering, to ensure cashback terms and conditions offered by retailers are fair, and to carry out checks on retailers. Failure to stick to the rules could result in a fine of up to 10 per cent of operator's turnover. Ofcom is looking for feedback on the proposals by the end of April with a view to introducing the new code by the summer of 2008. Ofcom says it is taking the legal route because the number of complaints it has received about misselling have risen since the introduction of the voluntary code, up to 700 a month on average from 400+ complaints in the month prior to when the code was launched.

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