2/8/2007 9:30:00 AM
Ofcom called in cashback crisis
Birmingham Trading Standards has called on regulator Ofcom to intervene over cashback scammers.
Officers in the area have become so inundated with customer complaints that they've asked Ofcom to raise national awareness of the problem.
In a statement on its website, the body said it had been swamped with complaints about at least five mobile retailers who have shut up shop in the last couple of months, owing thousands of customers hundreds of pounds. The city is a well known cashback blackspot.
A spokesman for Birmingham Trading Standards confirmed that it had been in recent talks with the regulatory body. 'We have had a meeting and provided information about retailers and network services providers regarding cashback problems,' he said.
Ofcom says it has only recently been made aware of the problem. 'These are early days, it is not an issue that has been around for that long as far as we are aware,' said an Ofcom spokesman.
'However, we have noticed this is a gap in the market Ofcom has no power over, and at the moment we are exploring areas with the OFT and Trading Standards bodies to see what their responsibilities are and what more might be done by all of us to protect consumers better.'
Meanwhile, complaints in Leicester seem to have dried up, following an explosion in problems in the area last November. Three outfits, Si Modo, Stellar Communications and Mobile Link Communications Ltd, all of which have since ceased selling, had Trading Standard officers in the area worried that the problem had migrated onto them from Birmingham.
Trading Standards manager for the area John Fox said: 'Since November we've had no more phone shops offering cashback that we've had to close down. At the same time we've seen a large drop in the number of complaints.'