Consumers who obtain their phone or broadband services via the Openreach copper network will soon find it easier to transfer their accounts between providers thanks to steps recently announced by Ofcom. The proposals follow a number of consultations and consumer research which identified difficulties experience by consumers when switching.
These difficulties include complex processes, deliberate delays by the “losing” provider and loss of service. The complexities and delays seem to be compounded when the switch is led by the losing provider rather than managed by the new provider. For example, 60% of those switching via a gaining provider found the process easy, compared with 38% of losing provider led switches.
Gaining provider led switches are already in place for many phone and broadband provider transfers but Ofcom now proposes to bring all switches into line. The proposals, which following further consultation probably won’t come into force until some time in 2014, will see Openreach being required to simultaneously effect transfers with minimal loss of service. Extra protection will also be put in place to prevent slamming, where lines are switched without consent, as well as to reduce the number of erroneous line transfers which occur, for example, when people move house.
In announcing their latest proposals Ofcom consumer Group Director, Claudio Pollack, said: “Today’s announcement represents an important milestone in Ofcom’s work to improve consumers’ experience when switching provider.”
At present the proposals do not apply services provided via cable or fibre to customer’s premises but Ofcom are investigating whether similar processes can be put in place for these services in the future. Whilst the Ofcom proposals will mainly affect residential lines, businesses which operate their phone systems via copper cables will also benefit. For them, switching is perhaps an even more daunting task as loss of line equates to loss of business. This in turn can make businesses reluctant to consider switching their phone service; but when so much advantage can be gained from moving to a virtual switchboard or to internet telephony businesses which don’t investigate the alternatives could be losing competitive advantage.
That is where a system such as the Callagenix try before you buy service can come into its own. Having the chance to try the Callagenix services, to experiment with different call handling pathways and to refine options to meet individual business requirements means that when the choice to switch is made the business already has the certainty that the new telephone system will work for them.