Ofcom will introduce new measures to switch providers


CEO Sharon White announces new measures to “protect and empower” customers and calls on providers to improve customer services

Customers will now be able to switch mobile and broadband provider without facing penalties, according to new measures introduced by Ofcom.

The regulator said it will outline plans next month to make it easier for mobile users to change providers in a “hassle-free” process.

That means contract will have to be “clear and fair with no hidden charges or lock-ins”, according to Ofcom.

In a speech at a Which? conference today, CEO Sharon White is expected to praise the industry for improving customer service levels, but warn that it is still too difficult for customers to switch provider.

The speech comes less than a week after Mobile News revealed that Ofcom was “concerned” with reports that thousands of Vodafone customers had been hit with porting delays.

White will say: “When Ofcom was established, access to a reliable internet connection and mobile phone was a ‘nice to have’. Now it is essential to the functioning of the economy, to the way people work and live their lives.

“Improving delivery to consumers doesn’t just fall at the feet of the regulator. The delivery of first class communications services is primarily the responsibility of providers.”

White was made CEO at Ofcom in December, and in what will be one of her first major speeches since joining the regulator, she will task the industry with improving customer services by outline four main focal points:

· Better information: Making available clear and accurate information in advertising and at point of sale, so that consumers can genuinely compare offers and make effective choices.

· Easier switching: Ensuring straightforward processes when consumers want to switch, including cancelling services without entanglement – and coordination between providers for a smooth transfer.

· Improved contract terms: Clear and fair terms with no hidden charges or lock-ins.

· Better complaints handling: Setting out simple steps when consumers wish to complain or when things go wrong. It means doing everything possible to avoid a dispute in the first place, including the opportunity for consumers to ‘walk away’ when services fall short. It also means clear signposting of alternative dispute resolution services – which are free to use.