Sharon White, Ofcom’s new chief executive, has warned mobile and broadband operators that the regulator will take a tough stance on companies that try to prevent customers leaving.
Ofcom’s ‘intervention’ is part of a number of measures designed to make it easier for customers to change mobile operators. White explained that Ofcom will demand that providers handle customer complaints better and make contracts clear and fair, with the regulator to crack down on hidden charges and lock-ins.
Ofcom will also enable customers, whose broadband falls below an acceptable level, to switch providers.
She said: ‘When Ofcom was established, access to a reliable internet connection and mobile phone was a ‘nice to have’. Now it is essential to the functioning of the economy, to the way people work and live their lives. Improving delivery to consumers doesn’t just fall at the feet of the regulator. The delivery of first class communications services is primarily the responsibility of providers.’
As part of new measures, from 1 July Ofcom has stated that landline and mobile charges to ‘service numbers’ will ‘become clearer’ to customers. Mobile users will also not be charged to call freephone numbers from their devices.
The new initiative will now see the cost of calls to ‘service numbers’ explained in a simpler format. Ofcom has stated that phone operators will be required to inform customers of the charge to call ‘service numbers’, including clarifying this on their bill. A new ‘one touch’ process will also be introduced to improve the ease at which consumers can switch providers.