7th Aug 2018
Communications regulator Ofcom is proposing to introduce new rules requiring firms to send alerts to their phone, broadband and TV customers when they are getting close to the end of their contract.
At present, providers don’t have to warn their customers when their contract is coming to an end, at which point many are automatically switched to a higher tariff. Ofcom says that more than 20 million customers are outside their minimum contract period at any one time, and more than half of those are on deals with an automatic price increase at the end.
Under the proposals (which Ofcom will consult on between now and October), companies will have to send notifications to all their residential and small-business customers who use services including landline, broadband, paid-for TV and mobile, 40-70 days before the contract ends, alerting them to that fact.
The notification should be sent using the customer’s preferred communication method, whether by post, email or text, and should inform them of any changes to their price or services and let them know their options. This will give customers the opportunity to shop around and either switch provider or negotiate a new deal with their existing one.
Ofcom consumer group director Lindsey Fussell said: “We’re concerned that many people are paying more than they need to – particularly those who are out of contract. Customers have told us they want to be alerted when their phone, TV or broadband contract is coming to an end, and get advice on their options. Under our plans, providers would have to do exactly that.”