Ofcom takes energy sector lead in improving consumer protections

Ofcom has announced new rules on consumer protection that will bring the telecommunications sector into closer alignment with others such as energy.

Announcing the new rules in May, Ofcom referenced Ofgem’s reforms to improve consumer protection in the energy sector back in 2013, such as a requirement for providers to give consumers 42 days’ warning their fixed contract is drawing to an end. It will now task broadband, TV, mobile and home phone companies to notify customers of the end of their current contracts 10-40 days before its expiry date, and offer details on their best available tariffs. The new rules will aid both businesses and individuals.

Under the Fairness for Customers programme, Ofcom is aiming to help more than 20mn customers who have exceeded their initial contract period and may be paying more than necessary. The rules bring the UK regulation in line with EU legislation – with Ofcom having publicly stated it decided not to wait until the outcome of Brexit, assuming that should the UK reach a deal with the EU, it would still have to comply with EU legislation during an implementation period while the government has also indicated it would be minded to implement the Code regardless.

The new rules will come into force from 15 February 2020.