The UK’s telecoms regulator has initiated a new investigation into the alleged mis-selling of fixed line voice services by the country’s largest alternative broadband operator by subscribers, TalkTalk. According to the Financial Times, Ofcom said it had opened the enquiry following a number of complaints from customers that ‘claim to have been mis-sold a fixed line telephone service by [TalkTalk] or have had their service switched to [TalkTalk] without their consent.’ Under existing regulations fixed line providers are required to comply with regulatory rules that aim to guard against mis-selling, and Ofcom in recent years has looked to clamp down on instances where customers are unknowingly transferred to another provider without consent, a process more commonly known as ‘slamming’. For its part TalkTalk has said that it is co-operating with the regulator and its investigation, with the company issuing a statement that said: ‘We continually review our sales processes and take any potential issues of mis-selling extremely seriously.’
This is the second inquiry aimed at TalkTalk launched by Ofcom in the last few months, with the watchdog having recently revealed that it had given the operator one month to comply with regulations after it was found that it had wrongly issued customers with bills for services that had been cancelled. TalkTalk claimed some of the billing problems related to issues stemming from the transfer of customers from Tiscali; its purchase of the rival broadband operator was completed in July 2009, and in January 2010 TalkTalk announced that it had completed the migration of all Tiscali customers to its own ISP. Should TalkTalk fail to comply with Ofcom’s regulations regarding billing it could find itself facing a penalty equivalent to up to 10% of its annual fixed line voice and broadband revenue.