Mobile mis-selling complaints have increasedOfcom says mobile woes now outstrip landline ones

21 November 2007

A close-up of someone holding a mobile phone.

Customers now make more complaints about mis-selling by mobile phone companies than landline firms, the telecoms regulator has said.

Ofcom yesterday reported a significant increase in complaints about mobile mis-selling over the past year.

The regulator received 813 complaints about the issue in September.

Cashback deals

That number outstripped problems logged by Ofcom about mis-selling by landline firms for the first time.

Problems with cashback deals offered by mobile networks were a major source of customer frustration.

This is when firms pledge to reimburse new clients with a proportion of the line rental - but in some cases this doesn't happen.

Landline complaints fell

Ofcom's Consumer Experience report says complaints about mis-selling in the fixed-line market have dropped since a peak in July this year.

But it adds: 'In contrast, mobile network mis-selling has steadily increased and for the first time in September 2007 exceeded complaints about fixed-line mis-selling.'

Broadband, cable and other mis-selling has remained broadly stable over the past year.

Phone 'slamming'

Ofcom's Consumer Experience research report says mis-selling is the single biggest source of complaints to the regulator about telecoms firms. Mis-selling is when firms make false or misleading claims to potential customers - such as promising them savings or gifts which never materialise.

Some firms mis-sell by pressurising the customer into switching phone firm, sometimes by using threatening behaviour.

Slamming is an extreme form of mis-selling where customers are switched from one phone company to another without agreeing to it.

Legal curbs

Ofcom received 13,037 complaints about slamming by telecoms firms in September, which it describes as a significant drop compared to last year.

The regulator said a voluntary code of practice brought in by mobile phone firms earlier this year had not yet prompted a big enough drop in complaints.

Ofcom has started a formal review to decide whether new legal requirements are needed to curb mobile mis-selling, slamming and bogus cash-back deals.

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