Home phone sales tactics – Ofcom clamps downTelcos such as BT and Orange subject to new rules

18 March 2010

Person talking on the phone

It can be hard to find out how much it would cost to end your contract early on leading providers' websites

New home phone mis-selling and slamming rules come into force today, designed to strengthen protection for consumers and let phone regulator Ofcom take effective action against breaches. 

The new protection covers all home phone companies, including market leaders such as BT, Orange, TalkTalk and Virgin Media as well as smaller players.

Find out which home phone companies have the happiest customers in the Which? home phone services review.

Home phone complaints

Ofcom says that it receives more complaints about slamming and mis-selling than any other issues in the home phone market. Over the last year it's received an average of 750 complaints a month, including complaints about: 

  • Receiving calls from home phone providers pretending to be another company.
  • Home phone providers giving incorrect information on the cost of the service.
  • Home phone providers not properly informing consumers of minimum contract tie-ins and cancellation charges that would apply if they ended their contract early.

Which? home phone services expert Ceri Stanaway says: 'When we recently investigated home phone contracts and cancellation terms, we found a mix of confusion, sky-high fees and lack of transparency. 

'Contract lengths for home phone contracts are getting ever longer and get-out fees can be steep, especially if you bundle your home phone service together with broadband. It's vital that consumers are adequately protected against poor or unscrupulous practice.'

Find out more about contract terms and conditions, including how to complain about your home phone provider, in the Which? guide to home phone contracts.

New slamming and mis-selling rules

Ofcom's new rules will:

  • Prohibit telecoms providers from engaging in misleading and inappropriate sales and marketing activity and slamming.
  • Require telecoms companies to keep better records of their sales and marketing activities.
  • Confirm the type and level of information that needs to be made available to new customers both pre- and post-sale (but before the service has actually been transferred). This includes providing important information about the key terms and conditions of the service, including contract clauses and cancellation rights.
  • Introduce new rules to make clear when providers are allowed to cancel orders placed by other providers. Cancelling orders for purposes other than those expressly specified by the regulations will be prohibited.

If you think your home phone provider has broken mis-selling rules, let Ofcom know. It has the power to fine companies that break the rules up to 10% of their annual turnover.

If you're not happy with your provider and you're out of contract, vote with your dialling finger with help from Which? top tips on how to choose a home phone service

If you're tempted to save money by bundling phone and broadband together, the Which? review of phone, internet and TV packages reveals which phone companies Which? members rate highly for customer satisfaction. 

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