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Ofcom announce that vulnerable customers must be treated fairly

July 30, 2020
by
Sam Lacchin

Media regulator, Ofcom has recently announced guidelines on how phone, broadband, and pay-TV companies should be treating those who are struggling due to Coronavirus. The sudden change in circumstances has, in many cases, resulted in people suffering with mental health, financial and bereavement issues, as well as unemployment and becoming a victims of crime. This has led to Ofcom issuing their ‘best practice industry guidance’ on the 23rd July, ensuring these individuals are given the right support by phone, broadband and pay-TV providers.

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UK vulnerability

In their latest news article, Ofcom advised that 1 in 6 adults experience common mental health problems every week, with 23% of people suffering from anxiety when dealing with service providers. The media regulator also added that 2.5 million people in the UK are living with cancer, and 318 people declared bankruptcy or insolvent per day between October and December 2019.

Issues such as these can cause an enormous amount of pressure and concern, before even discussing their connectivity requirements with providers. Ofcom has reassured the UK public that their job is to ensure that whatever a person’s vulnerability, communications providers will offer a high level of customer care and support to customers in need.

What is Ofcom proposing?

Providers must ensure that they have suitable policies and procedures in place, including keeping customer information updated and safe, training staff appropriately and monitor and evaluate through in-depth customer feedback schemes for best practice and enhanced service levels for the vulnerable.

“We’re setting out industry best practice to help ensure vulnerable people are treated fairly and sympathetically by their phone, broadband and pay-TV providers. This is especially important at a time when many customers may be worried about their physical and mental health, as well as their finances.”

Jane Rumble, Director of Consumer Policy at Ofcom


Ofcom has provided examples of best practice when it comes to how customers should be treated in certain circumstances, including people who are behind on their bills and victims of crime. Regarding the former, providers are expected to prevent customers from being disconnected wherever possible, allowing time for the customer to get help and support. The latter includes making sure that victims do not pay for mobile phone services they have been unable to use (e.g. if their phone is taken from them), listen carefully with empathy and compassion, and avoiding pressuring customers for more information if necessary.

How Telecoms World is supporting customers

We know how tough it has been on businesses and individuals during this difficult time. It is our mission to ensure that customers are fully supported and not pressured into making any decisions that could negatively affect themselves or their business. We love to see our customers walk away with a service they are extremely happy with. That’s why we are rated ‘Excellent’ on TrustPilot.

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For more information on how we can support your business through Home Working or office-based solutions, contact our team of experts for a friendly chat on 0800 774 7772.