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17 Jun 2019

New guidelines aim to reduce unfair practice by broadband and mobile providers in the UK

Ofcom is planning a new 'Fairness Framework' - what does it mean for you?

New guidelines for broadband, phone and pay-TV companies aim to stamp out unfair practices in the telecoms industry.

The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has announced a range of plans to help ensure telecoms and TV companies treat customers fairly - but what does that mean for you?

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What is the 'Fairness Framework'?

Ofcom is calling for broadband, mobile phone and pay-TV providers to do a better job of ensuring consumers get a fair deal.

Its plan is to create a new set of guidelines - the Fairness Framework - that providers can use to ensure they're treating customers fairly. Ofcom would also use the guidelines to make regulatory decisions.

The guidelines are still in draft form, but the plan is for Ofcom to use them when considering any fairness concerns.If Ofcom found that a provider was breaching the Fairness Framework, it could intervene.

What else is Ofcom doing to improve fairness?

The Fairness Framework is the latest part of a series of moves Ofcom has made to improve the UK telecoms industry. Below is a list of Ofcom's other recent developments:

  • It has launched the Boost Your Broadband site to help people save money on their broadband deal while ensuring they get a fast connection.
  • In March, Ofcom introduced a new Code of Practice requiring broadband providers to clearly tell customers how fast their connection speed will be before they sign a contract.
  • In April, it introduced automatic compensation for customers who experience long internet outages, delayed connection installations and missed engineer appointments.
  • It has conducted a review into the way mobile phone providers charge for handsets after research showed that an estimated four million people with a mobile phone contract were being charged the same price after having already paid for the phone itself.
  • It is also currently reviewing broadband pricing practices, particularly examining whether vulnerable customers need additional protections to ensure they get a good deal.

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Broadband and phone providers commit to fairness

Ofcom also recently published a set of 'Fairness for Customers' commitments, which is a separate set of guidelines for providers to use to ensure they are treating customers well.

The commitments are:

  • Customers get a fair deal that is right for their needs.
  • Customers get the support they need when their circumstances make them vulnerable.
  • Customers are supported to make well-informed decisions with clear information about their options before, during and at the end of their contract.
  • Customers' services work as promised, reliably over time. If things go wrong, providers give a prompt response to fix problems and take appropriate action to help their customers, which may include providing compensation where relevant.
  • Customers can sign up to, change and leave their services quickly and smoothly.
  • Customers can be confident that fair treatment is a central part of their provider's culture.

The UK's biggest providers have signed up to the commitments, including: BT, EE, Giffgaff, O2, Plusnet, Post Office, Sky, TalkTalk, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Mediaand Vodafone.