Skip to main content

Telecommunications Services

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

This is a matter for the Office of Communications. Ofcom’s view is that, while overall competition has produced significant benefits in the form of lower prices and better services, the problem of mis-selling in telecoms continues. It affects a significant minority of customers, and Ofcom has therefore put in place clear rules to protect consumers and is taking decisive action to enforce those rules.

To give one example, I can confirm that Ofcom last week fined one company, Just Telecoms UK Ltd., trading as “Lo-Rate”, the maximum amount—10 per cent. of its annual turnover—for mis-selling. That is part of Ofcom’s ongoing enforcement programme to address this issue and to enforce tougher rules introduced last year. Ofcom is actively investigating a number of further cases.

I thank my right hon. Friend for her extensive answer. However, British companies operating from this country and abroad are contacting customers through third parties, usually from call centres in India. Those companies are mis-selling for other companies, but they imply that they represent the customer’s original company. What is she doing to try to stop that? Are those British companies, even though they are using a third party, still liable under British law?

The practice to which my hon. Friend refers sounds pretty disreputable, and I would be happy to meet him to discuss it further, to see whether, working with Ofcom, we can take further action. If he agrees, I shall arrange a meeting as soon as possible.