Ofcom draws up new plan to make switching…

Ofcom has drawn up proposals to make it easier for telecoms customers to switch from one company to another. According to the watchdog, 79 per cent of people have encountered difficulties while switching between different networks. These have included problems cancelling their previous service and being left without a service for several days during the switch.

Ofcom therefore wants to make the process of switching broadband, landline and pay TV services between companies using the Openreach telecoms network more straightforward. About 884,000 switches are made between KCOM, Virgin Media cable and Sky satellite every year, but since no formal switching process is in place, customers must contact both their existing provider and their new provider to change over. Ofcom wants to replace this with a simple one-stop process, which would place responsibility for coordinating the switch on to the customer’s new provider.

As a result, customers would only need to deal with the firm they are switching to. Alternatively, Ofcom is looking at enhancing the current procedure, perhaps by ensuring more cancellation channels are available, so customers are not required to speak with a company on the phone. The watchdog believes that these two approaches would reduce the chances of people experiencing issues such as double-payment and loss of service.

Stakeholders and interested parties are being invited to air their views on the proposals in a consultation, which runs until October 21st. Lindsey Fussell, Consumer Group Director at Ofcom, commented: “People should be able to switch easily to take advantage of the best deals in the market.

“We’ve already improved the switching experience for millions of landline and broadband customers. Now we re consulting on making it easier and more reliable for telecoms and TV customers to switch between different networks – including when their services are bundled onto one bill.

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