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Ofcom tells mobile networks to sort out their customer service

Ofcom tells mobile networks to sort out their customer service
Nick Summers
Nick Summers|@nisummers|September 17, 2015 10:38 AM

Headquarters OFCOM Office of Communication the independant regulator and competition authority London UK

Mobile networks have a lousy reputation when it comes to customer service. The moment you walk into a store it's all smiles and pleasantries, but once you're an established subscriber the experience can quickly sour. If anything goes wrong with your account or network access, or you want to switch provider, calling a company representative can be a gruelling, stressful experience. Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, experienced an uptick in customer complaints between May and July this year. The numbers aren't unprecedented, but clearly Ofcom wants the situation to improve, not deteriorate. To that end, it's been meeting with carriers to "discuss their customer services practices and to drive improvements in behaviour." That's not an entirely new step for the regulator -- it's held similar talks in the past -- but the timing here could be particularly important.

It shows that Ofcom has an appetite to do its job and hold the telecoms industry to account. Already, the regulator has penalised a number of mobile networks over their handling of customer complaints. Three UK was fined £250,000 in October 2014, followed by EE to the tune of £1 million earlier this summer. Ofcom is now in the middle of a third investigation, this time with Vodafone, over the way it's been dealing with customer disputes. The financial penalties might be meagre for these monolithic companies, but at least they're something. Ofcom's boss Sharon White wants to give "real power to the elbow of consumers," and based on recent evidence, she's starting to do just that.

[Image Credit: Kevin Foy / Alamy]

Ofcom tells mobile networks to sort out their customer service