/ Technology

How does new Ofcom boss say she’ll improve services for you?

Today we hosted the first public speech by Ofcom’s new Chief Executive Sharon White as she set out how she plans to make it easier for you to switch to a better deal and get the services you’ve been promised.

Under Ofcom’s new proposalsyou’ll be able leave your broadband contracts without penalty if you don’t get what is promised, and providers will need to give better information on the broadband speeds you’ll realistically get.

We know unreliable broadband speeds drive you crazy, so it’s great see the regulator taking action.

Sharon was joined on the panel by Which? Executive Director Richard Lloyd, TalkTalk’s Chairman, Sir Charles Dunstone, and Openreach Chief Executive of Openreach, Joe Garner, before an audience of consumers, Which? supporters and industry people.

So, how else does Ofcom plan to improve things for you?

Simpler switching and better information

The panel was quizzed on issues including why you have to pay to unlock your mobile handset and what Ofcom is going to do about making bills clearer, so you know what you are paying for. Sharon White outlined four key ways the industry needs to improve:

  • Easier switching: making it simpler to switch, including being able to cancel without unfair penalties and coordination between providers for a smooth transfer
  • Better information: Making available clear and accurate information in advertising and at point of sale, so you can genuinely compare offers and make effective choices
  • Improved contract terms: Clear and fair terms with no hidden charges or lock-ins
  • Better complaints handling: Setting out simple steps when you wish to complain or when things go wrong. It means doing everything possible to avoid a dispute in the first place, including the chance for you to ‘walk away’ when services fall short. It also means clear signposting of alternative dispute resolution services – which are free to use.

So what’s our verdict?

Which? Executive Director Richard LloydWe’ve been calling for changes to make it easier to switch telecoms providers, so we’re pleased to see it’s a priority for Ofcom. We also look forward to swift action to tackle other problems facing customers, including competition in the communications market.

We think this is an encouraging start by the new chief executive, particularly at a time when Ofcom faces big challenges.

We look forward to working with her to ensure consumers have more power to drive competition and growth among the best businesses, while protecting those who are vulnerable.

What do you think of the changes that Ofcom is planning?

Comments
Member

People power is what is needed.I don’t trust Government to do anything if left to them. Broadband is diabolical in my area, Western Isles, and BT are to blame. They are very ready to take my money but if 2 people in my household are on the the internet at the same time it goes absolute crazy and somebody has to come of it. Moving providers is not the answer because BT own the landline, exchanges etc.

Member

Maybe the SNP will help James! Mind you, I’m sure living in the Western Isles has huge appeal. I’m envious.

Member
Nick Pearce says:
20 June 2015

Once again, the tail is wagging the dog. I switched 10 months ago, and Plusnet told me I’d get a paltry 1.3mgs, I have been costantly getting more than this about 1.6mgs. In my opinion, the providers will know exactly what speed I’ll get, but they deflate the number to make themselves look good.

Member
Mazza says:
24 June 2015

Ha ha! I wish! I think you are very much in the minority!

Member

what is driving me crazy is BT —-l live in Southampton , a large city, and l cannot get BTinfinity —they say it is not ready to roll out and is undergoing a full evaluation . lt seems strange that new blocks in the area have ”infinity” and l don’t —this has been going on for at least 3 years —not only does the lack of ”infinity” effect my broadband it ALSO effects my television quality of service that l get my television from BT but without infinity l cannot get HD services and this effects other suppliers such as SKY sports channels –BT are not providing me with their full services

Member
Dave says:
27 August 2015

I am currently having a problem with EE. I joined them in Jan 2014 on a 12 month special deal for unlimited 17 Mbps unlimited BB. It seemed fine at first after initial set up problems and I was getting speeds around 11Mbps, not 15Mbps I was told I could expect at my address.
However this year the speeds have dropped dramatically to between 4 and 8Mbps.
Yesterday I contacted Customer Services and after they did various test I was told my line had been capped between 4 and 9Mbps. They couldn’t say why or when this happened nor have they ever advised me my service has been reduced and they are still charging me for 17Mbps service.
They said they would remove the cap within 24hrs but I’m not holding my breath they also offered to refund 1 months internet charge.
I refused this offer as inadequate requesting they refund 50% of the BB charge for the contract plus compensate me for the inconvenience they have caused.
I let you know the outcome.

Member
Harry Tyler says:
31 August 2015

For the life of me I cannot understand why UK companies all have different “deals” and it is up to the client to choose the best/cheapest one.
This to me smacks of sheer dishonesty in that the company involved hopes that thousands of clients will not get to choose the “best” deal and that the company will therefore gouge more money out of them.
Otherwise why have different “deals”?
Surely a responsible, honest company will set the cheapest rate they can afford and make a profit?
I say UK companies are all lousy, dishonest cheats – that includes banks, electricity, gas/oil, broadband, telephone, airlines, etc. You cannot trust a single one of them!

Member

It is the nature of commerce going back centuries to set your stall out with a range of products each of which has a unique selling point and is priced to differentiate it from the merchant next door. It is the most competitive form of market but, in excess, it leads to confusion and exploitation. Which is why we have regulators. Unfortunately the regulators are usually not fly enough to check the excesses, but nobody is locked into a deal for ever although you do have to keep your eyes open. Comparison websites can help but some are not entirely transparent and some of the best deals are available from companies that do not list on such websites.

Sometimes the price is not the only factor in a contract that makes it worth having.