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Ofcom investigates broadband mis-selling by Universal Utilities

Communications provider Universal Utilities is under Ofcom’s spotlight after complaints about the way it sells broadband and phone services.

The communications regulator’s inquiry follows complaints from Universal Utilities customers about sales and marketing tactics, trading as business broadband and phone provider Unicom.

Ofcom said Universal Utilities is accused breaking rules connected to ‘slamming’, where a customer is switched to a new provider without giving their permission, and giving customers all the information they should have before they’re signed up.

Ofcom investigates broadband mis-selling by Universal Utilities
Unicom is accused of bad sales practices

“Ofcom has opened this investigation following complaints from consumers as well as an assessment of evidence submitted by Unicom in the course of an own-initiative enquiry,” Ofcom said in a statement.

The watchdog said that at the heart of the investigation is whether or not Unicom complied with its obligations under General Condition 24 (specifically 24.3 and 24.6) and General Condition 9 (specifically 9.3 and 9.4) of its rules for communications providers.

General Condition 24 places various obligations on fixed-line communications providers regarding the ways in which they engage in sales and marketing activity, forbidding slamming and dishonest, misleading, deceptive or aggressive conduct, and contacting customers in an inappropriate manner under part 24.3.

It also requires providers to ensure the customer intends to enter a new contract, and they have been given a minimum set of information about the contract.

General Condition 9 places various requirements on providers to give information such as the length of contracts and the conditions for termination.

The regulator said that it would examine “whether there are reasonable grounds for believing that Unicom has failed to comply with these obligations.”

Ofcom investigated Universal Utilities in 2006 over whether the telecoms company had complied with its requirement to establish and comply with the provisions of its Code of Practice for sales and marketing activity. The regulator also investigated the firm in the same year following a complaint from BT.

Image: Flickr/Frederic Bisson

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