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Consumers are losing out to corporate lobbying of Ofcom

Consumer organisations Which? and Consumer Futures are demanding stronger consumer regulation and reform of Ofcom.

In a email sent to Culture Secretary Maria Miller and Business Secretary Vince Cable, the two consumer watchdogs, alongside mobile operator Three and TalkTalk , demanded that Ofcom has the ability to make strong decisions in favour of consumers and fair competition, without having its plans derailed by companies that don’t want change.

In the letter, it was claimed that a number of consumer friendly decisions made by Ofcom were blocked by legal challenges made by larger, well-funded companies intent on maintaining the status quo.

“There are significant concerns that under the current regime, Ofcom’s decisions can be derailed too easily, through technical challenges that ignore the substance of the regulator’s judgments,” the letter said.

“The routine use of legal challenges has had a chilling effect on policy. It diverts time and money into legal disputes and away from good regulation. This is bad news for competition, for the industry, and for consumers.”

In a blog post, Three said: “We are asking the government to update the rules to make it harder for reforms to be blocked on technical details, so that the focus is on the right outcome for consumers.”

A move to allow consumers to transfer mobile numbers to another operator without the permission of the old operator has been held up since 2007.

“But Vodafone, backed by O2, Orange and T-Mobile, made a legal challenge to Ofcom’s decision and nearly seven years later you still have to go back to your old operator to switch your number to your new one,” said Three in the blog. “We want Ofcom to have the powers necessary to support consumers and competition so does Which?, Consumer Futures and TalkTalk.”

Imgge: Flickr/Matt Biddulph

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