Broadband, phone and pay TV companies have signed up to a string of new measures that will ensure customers are treated fairly, as regulator Ofcom continues its crackdown on poor customer service.
BT, Vodafone, O2 and Sky are among the companies that have committed to helping customers get a good deal and switch providers easily if needed.
Under the new guidelines, providers will have to pay compensation if they fail to deliver services and must allow customers to switch to another firm if they cannot fulfil their promises within a “reasonable period”.
The rules will ensure customers can switch providers without hassle, are given clear information about the contracts on offer and are given a fair deal that is right for their needs.
The companies have also pledged to offer support to vulnerable customers, such as those with disabilities or who have been recently bereaved.
“I welcome the commitments the providers have made, and the action they’re taking to ensure customers are treated fairly every step of the way,” said Ofcom chief executive Sharon White.
“Great service cannot be optional. It has to be the norm. That hasn’t always happened in the past in broadband and mobile services, but there is now a growing belief from providers that putting customers first is paramount.”
The measures are the latest attempt by the regulator to crack down on telecoms firms, amid concerns that opaque contracts are preventing customers from getting the best deals.
Ofcom last month unveiled new regulations requiring companies to notify customers when their contracts are coming to an end and lay out the best tariffs available, while from 1 July mobile users will be able to switch provider by sending a text.
But Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.com, said it was “somewhat disappointing” the new rules were only voluntary and not enshrined in regulation.
“These commitments could be helpful in balancing telecoms more in favour of the customer, many of whom have faced unnecessary hurdles and frustrations when trying to sort out their services. However, this will not be a quick fix,” he said.
Ofcom said it will monitor companies to ensure they are complying with the rules, and will publish a performance report next year outlining whether providers are delivering their promises.