Ten years on from its first strategic review, Ofcom is conducting a thorough review of the UK’s digital communications. The aim of this review, according to Ofcom, is to make sure digital communications markets continue to work for consumers and businesses.
Although the review is still in the consultation process and, therefore, no definitive decisions have yet been made, there are some key proposals put forward by Ofcom which we believe are worthy of consideration by telecoms resellers. One such proposal is in providing compensation for those consumers and small businesses that receive a less than satisfactory service.
According to current proposals, Ofcoms Digital Commuication Review would include:
- Providing compensation to customers for the type of issues which have a high impact. For example, delayed provision, loss of service, dropped calls and broadband speeds which are lower than specified in a customer’s contract.
- Issues on scope should be objectively quantifiable and not caused by the customer.
- The compensation should cover consumers and small business customers (companies with up to 10 employees).
- Compensation should take the form of a financial payment such as a cheque or a credit to anoutstanding bill.
- Any amount of compensation should NOT be limited to the contractual cost of the service provided, so not just a free day’s rental for each day of lost service.
- Once an issue in scope has been identified, the compensation should be paid automatically, reducing the time and effort for redress to the consumer.
- Compensation will be payable by the customer facing communication provider (CP). Ofcom will expect CPs to be able to negotiate Service Level Guarantee (SLG) payments with wholesalers which migrate or cover the cost of compensation paid.
- This proposal is not without obvious concerns for telecoms resellers. Restricting compensation to the specified definition of a small business customer for example. How do you identify these customers and how do you explain to a business customer with 11 or 12 employees that they will not be eligible?
Then there’s the potential difficulties of negotiating and securing SLG payments from, say, Openreach that would cover the amounts which CPs will be obliged to pay their customers.
Ofcom claims to have a clear roadmap to implement its strategy and many of these proposals will be delivered through its normal process of regular reviews of individual telecoms markets, as set out in their proposed Annual Plan for 2016/17.
Union Street will continue to monitor developments and will report and comment on these and other matters in the future.