Ofcom today announced new measures to help consumers change landline and broadband
providers with greater ease, confidence and convenience.
Consumers currently face a number of different switching processes depending on which provider they are moving from and to, or the type of service being switched.
Not only do complex switching processes cause confusion, they
also increase the perception that switching is difficult, which can prevent consumers from moving to a better deal.
Ofcom research shows that, in cases where the customer has to contact their existing company to request a change, the resulting process can be significantly more difficult for consumers to follow.
Such a process can give too much control to the existing provider, which has an incentive to delay or disrupt the transfer. This can also result in unwanted pressure on customers not to change provider.
Single switching process
To resolve these problems, Ofcom has today decided that consumers only need follow a single switching process in future, in which the new provider leads the transfer process on behalf of the consumer.
Today’s decision applies only to switching providers on the Openreach copper network.
This includes fixed telephony (landlines) as well as standard and superfast broadband which use copper into the home (including fibre to the cabinet, or FTTC). It does not currently apply to cable, or to fibre to the
premises (FTTP) customers.
Ofcom will be considering the possibility of developing a consistent switching process for consumers to ensure they have a similar experience regardless of the network.
Under this ‘gaining provider led’ process, which is already in use for most landline and broadband switches, consumers will no longer need to contact their existing provider to receive a code in order to switch
Ofcom has also set out additional measures to help prevent consumers losing their service during the changeover process or being switched without their consent.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: “Today’s announcement represents an important milestone in Ofcom’s work to improve Consumers’ experience when switching provider.
“The move towards one clear and simple system led by the gaining provider will result in a switching process that works in consumers’ best interests. We will now be working on further measures to improve consumers’ experience of switching.”
A clear and improved switching process to help consumers
Ofcom proposes to move to a single process based on the existing gaining provider-led system. The existing process will be enhanced to deliver added benefits for consumers.
Under the single switching process, providers would have
Ofcom aims to finalise these details by early 2014, with the new process coming into effect within a year thereafter.
Next steps on switching
Following today’s announcement, the next phase of work on switching will be focused on two key areas:
In the future, Ofcom may also review switching processes for pay TV and mobile. Today’s statement and consultation and an accompanying plain English summary can be found online.
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