We’ve never been more reliant on a decent mobile or broadband connection. For many, these connections are a lifeline; the only means of reaching relatives or accessing care and support.
This is a guest post by Sharon White. All views expressed are Sharon’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
Across the population, eight in 10 of us own a smartphone, more than half of us have a tablet, while smart TVs are among the fastest growing tech products out there.
You can choose from an array of different providers, and this choice is great for customers. Companies are fighting for business by offering us lower prices, wider coverage and better reliability.
But this choice also throws up challenges. For many of us, more options can be confusing.
Companies must not cut corners
The race to sign up new customers raises fundamental questions about how we are treated.
For example, who should get better deals? Customers who have stayed with the same provider for years and not switched to a rival? Or people who do the research and are happy to haggle?
And what protections are needed to allow businesses to compete and come up with new ideas, while making sure they don’t make things worse for customers in the process
However fierce the battle for people’s business gets, one thing is clear: we are not prepared to let companies cut corners on how they treat their customers.
Fairness for customers
Ensuring Fairness for Customers is a priority for Ofcom – particularly for those who may find themselves in vulnerable circumstances, whether through their income, age or a disability.
Where we see people – or small businesses – being treated unfairly, we step in quickly and take action. Such as the £7 per month line rental cut we secured for BT’s landline-only customers – most of whom are elderly. Or capping the price of calls to 118 directory enquiry numbers.
And while our research shows most people are satisfied with their broadband or phone, we understand there are some things that can be really frustrating.
Slow, expensive broadband is certainly one of those. Our research found that around half of homes able to get superfast broadband are still yet to take it up. This is because either they don’t know it’s available or they might think it will be more expensive.
People’s needs are changing
Seeing your bill creep up after a promotional offer ends is another frustration. That’s why we recently published plans to make companies tell you when your contract is coming to an end and what their best offers are.
You can then decide whether you want to stick to the deal you’re on, or make a change.
We’re also taking action to support mobile customers. It can’t be right that people are left in the dark about how much they are paying for a mobile handset, minutes or data – so we’re looking at options to make sure they get clearer, fairer pricing.
But ensuring fairness for customers is not a task with an end. Technology, business practices and what we expect as customers are constantly evolving. And so too must the way we work.
With the help of bodies like Which? we must keep our ear-to-the ground not just on what companies are doing, but whether what they are doing is fair for customers. That is the ultimate test, and if we see companies falling short, we won’t hesitate to step in and stand up for you.
This was a guest post by Sharon White. All views expressed are Sharon’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
Do you feel like you’re paying too much for broadband that just doesn’t suit your needs? Have you used Boost Your Broadband or Which? Switch to find out if you could get faster, cheaper broadband?
Let us and Ofcom know your experiences in the comments.