Ditch your broadband provider mid-contract if they aren’t playing by rules: Ofcom

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Ofcom has outlined three measures that will not only enable better delivery of services to customers, but will also protect their rights in case service providers don’t play by the rules. The three measure include strengthened Code of Practice on broadband speeds with the UK’s largest providers; easy steps to change a mobile provider; and improvement in the process of changing broadband and landline provider.

Through the strengthened code of practice on broadband speeds with the UK’s largest providers: BT, EE, KC in Hull, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, customers will have the right to leave their broadband contract when speeds fall below acceptable levels. New customers signing up will be able to walk away from providers during the whole term of the contract, not just the first three months, if they suffer problems that cannot be resolved.

Ofcom has also revealed that it will soon outline plans to make it easier for mobile phone customers to change provider. Further, it is going to improve the process for millions of customers who are changing broadband and landline provider.

Ofcom said that from 20 June, it will be much simpler and smoother to change between landline and broadband providers who use the Openreach network – such as BT, EE, Sky and TalkTalk. A new ‘one touch’ process will place the responsibility for the switch in the hands of the company the customer is moving to.

Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White in her first speech since becoming Chief Executive said that while customer service levels in the industry have improved, people still find it too difficult to change provider and cancel contracts, and are frustrated with customer service.

Ms White outlined four areas of focus for industry to improve upon including delivery of better information, easier switching, improved contract terms, and better complaints handling.

“Our job is to ensure that markets work for consumers and citizens, principally by encouraging competition”, said Ms White. “Where markets don’t work well enough – or where competition alone isn’t enough to secure good outcomes for consumers – then we have powers to intervene.”

Ms White explained that Ofcom does this in a number of ways. They include: making sure consumers have the right information to make informed choices; setting out what is expected of companies and how they should deliver services; targeted enforcement when this is not met; and help for those who have difficulty using the services.

The communications sector has delivered on many measures around quality and value over the past ten years, and this must continue, Ms White said.

Serving consumers and businesses is at the heart of Ofcom’s Strategic Review of Digital Communications, which will consider how to support industry in driving up standards, addressing coverage and fostering new services for the next decade.