Ofcom has found that the UK’s major mobile phone networks are failing to offer adequate services to disabled customers. Those of us blessed with sight and hearing may not give it much thought, but navigating the minefield of mobile phone makes and contracts without being able to see the handsets, compare deals at a glance, check your bill or have easy access to external advice sounds like a very tough job to me.
Ofcom mystery-shopped all of the UK’s major networks and found that a quarter of them are failing to give disabled callers correct information or saying that there are no special services to help them.
Although the finding that 75% of networks and fixed-line providers did manage to provide the right information when prompted may sound like a good amount, the figure has fallen from 91% when the last survey was carried out in 2006.
“People who don’t have access to these technologies are effectively being disenfranchised from society. It is the responsibility of mobile providers to make it clear to disabled customers the services they provide,” said Mark Shrimpton of RADAR, the UK’s largest disability campaigning organisation.
The survey included BT, Orange, O2, TalkTalk, T-Mobile, Virgin Media, 3 and Vodafone. Ofcom requires networks not only to provide extra services to help disabled customers, but to make these easy for consumers to find out about as well. If networks fail to up their games, they could face hefty fines for failing to meet these obligations.