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Ofcom logo whiteOfcom has set out new proposals to stamp out ‘slamming’ and other forms of mis-selling in the fixed-line telecoms market. The action has been taken because complaints about slamming averaged at almost 1,000 each month over the last year.

“Slamming – where a consumer is switched to another provider without their knowledge and/or consent – is the most complained about issue to Ofcom in the fixed line market,” the industry watchdog said.

A number of proposals have been put forward to cut the number of complaints and also to allow Ofcom to take “quicker and more effective action” against communications providers that break the rules.

The consultation period closes on 27 May 2009.

Proposed new rules for the fixed line market include:
Call recordings
Under the proposed new rules, communications providers would have to keep better records, including voice recordings of all telephone conversations relating to sales. Better quality records will assist Ofcom in taking enforcement action against providers that are engaging in mis-selling and making it more effective.

Explicit regulations
Ofcom proposes to simplify the regulations by explicitly banning mis-selling under the General Conditions – a set of rules that all communications providers have to adhere to. Communications providers breaking the rules could ultimately be fined up to 10 per cent of relevant turnover.

Clearer consumer advice
The proposed new rules would require communications providers to give better information to consumers by reminding them that there may be consequences from switching, such as possible termination charges for leaving a contract early.

Ofcom said it expects expects the proposals, if implemented, to substantially reduce the levels of complaints that it receives about fixed-line mis-selling.

“If it does not then Ofcom may consider other options,” the regulator warned.