Small businesses that have been unable to resolve complaints with their gas and electricity supplier may seek assistance from the statutory consumer body, Energywatch, as well as seeking redress through the courts. Small businesses that have been mis-sold fixed-line telecommunications contracts have access to alternative dispute resolution schemes, which all telecommunications providers are obliged by the regulator, Ofcom, to be members of, as well as being able to seek redress through the courts.
As in general consumer law, regulatory protection in relation to mis-selling does not extend to the business market for gas and electricity. The regulation of the fixed-line telecommunications market is the responsibility of Ofcom. All companies selling fixed-line telecoms services are required by Ofcom to draw up mandatory codes of practice consistent with published guidelines and then comply with these. If companies breach these obligations Ofcom’s powers now include the ability to secure written undertakings from companies about their sales and marketing practices. Ofcom has taken enforcement action and four investigations are already complete, with fourteen enforcement notices issued to six of the worst offenders. These have secured significant changes to behaviour to ensure consumers’ rights are protected, including action to require repayment of monies to affected consumers. Ofcom has also already fined one company the maximum possible 10 per cent. of its turnover.