O2 steps up action against slammers

O2 has announced that it has today commenced legal proceedings in the High Court in London against Communications Direct Ltd for trade mark infringement and passing off. This is the second mobile phone provider O2 has commenced legal proceedings against in a campaign to halt illegal activities against O2 customers. At the same time O2 is continuing to review and act upon customer feedback that has been received in relation to 60 other companies throughout the UK as it steps up its effort to protect customers from mis-selling by cold call companies. O2 has been receiving a rising number of customer complaints regarding companies who make cold calls to O2 customers and claim to represent or be associated with O2. These cold callers offer to upgrade or renew the customer’s O2 package when in fact they represent other networks. If the customer agrees to the “O2” upgrade, the customer is actually transferred to another network instead – a practice called ‘Slamming’. O2 has already taken legal action against Landmark Marketing Services Ltd (trading as Landmark Communications). Landmark, which offers airtime contracts on behalf of mobile operator 3 (amongst others), had persistently targeted O2 customers and through Landmark’s actions, had churned significant numbers of customers to that network without the customers knowing that they would be leaving O2. In December 2006, Landmark entered into a settlement agreement with O2, agreed to put a stop to the practice of mis-selling, agreed to act honestly and lawfully when selling mobile phone contracts and paid O2 £500,000 in compensation. O2 has also received a constant stream of complaints about the behaviour of Communications Direct, which has culminated in the action taken today. O2’s actions are part of a committed programme of legal moves to prevent mis-selling and slamming by companies that cold-call O2 customers as distributors for other networks and the company has set up a process to encourage its customers to report this type of activity. Through O2’s Nuisance Call Bureau, which provides help and advice for customers who receive nuisance calls or text messages, customers can now report any instances of alleged cold call mis-selling or slamming to a specially trained team. O2 has for some time been compiling a list of companies who have been reported by customers and is actively investigating them. Customer complaints are key to tackling this practice and O2 strongly encourages customers to report this type of activity by either calling O2 customer services on the number printed on their monthly invoices or by directly emailing the O2 Nuisance Call Bureau at ncb@o2.com. Even if the customer does not have the name of the company that cold called them, the Nuisance Call Bureau can assist in tracking down the company name via the telephone number used to call the O2 customer. As well as notifying O2, customers are also advised to complain directly to their local Trading Standards office, the Office of Communications (“Ofcom”), the Office of Fair Trading and the Information Commissioner. In addition to this, customers may choose to complain in writing directly to the CEO of the company who has cold called them and the network to whom they have been transferred by obtaining the relevant addresses from the Companies House Web Check Service. O2’s activities in bringing Landmark Communications, Communications Direct and other companies to task for allegedly mis-selling and slamming has come to the attention of Ofcom. Further Information: Cold calling O2 customers is unlawful if the cold caller: a) Breaks the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations. b) Pretends that they are O2 or connected to O2. c) Misleads the customer into believing false statements and then induces the customer to enter into a contract on the basis of those incorrect facts. d) Attempts to obtain information by misleading the customer or through fraudulent behaviour. e) Continues to call the customer after they have indicated that they do not wish to receive future calls. f) Fails to advise the customer that he has 7 days within which to terminate the contract. O2 offers advice on its website: http://www.o2.co.uk/help/nuisancecalls Other useful contacts include: · Ofcomwww.ofcom.org.uk · Trading Standardshttp://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk · Office of Fair Tradinghttp://www.oft.gov.uk/default.htm · Telephone Preference Servicehttp://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps · Information Commissionerhttp://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk · Citizens Advice Bureauxhttp://www.adviceguide.org.uk · Companies House – http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/ -Ends-