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Ofcom acts to tackle 'slamming'

An estimated 520,000 households had their landline or broadband services switched without their consent in the last year, Ofcom has said.

The figures were released as the communications regulator announced proposals to make changing phone and internet services simpler.

Ofcom said consumers can face a number of problems when changing their service provider.

The watchdog released analysis which shows that one in five consumers switching their broadband lost their service for about a week. And approximately 130,000 households have faced problems with the wrong telephone line being taken over during the switching process or when moving house during a 12-month period.

An estimated 520,000 households had their landline or broadband services "slammed" (switched without their consent) in the last year, the regulator said.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "Smooth switching processes are essential to ensure that consumers can change providers with confidence. Many people think that the current systems are too difficult and unreliable which is why we have made it one of our priorities to tackle this problem.

"Ofcom has improved consumer information on broadband speeds and enhanced competition in the market but it is also essential that people are able to switch easily to exercise their choice.

"Today's proposals are designed to make the process easier, more reliable and safe from slamming. We believe that the proposals would improve consumers' experience of switching and ensure that they continue to benefit from competition."

Ofcom has proposed a number of options to help consumers change supplier:

These include ensuring that switches are verified by an independent third party to protect consumers from slamming; simplifying the process so that consumers are not confused by different methods of switching; and ensuring that all providers can compete so consumers can continue to benefit from innovation, choice and value for money.

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