Contracts and Switching Supplier

Number Porting agreements and processes are now firmly established and are an essential component of the marketplace, so switching suppliers is, now, very straightforward. With a few exceptions, customers can take their numbers with them when they move supplier and as long as the new SP is experienced and competent, then the process (usually) works smoothly and seamlessly.

Switching supplier is always subject to whatever contractual arrangement is in place and, unfortunately, there are many customers on contracts that are weighted heavily in favour of the Service Provider to the expense of the customer. For example, we have seen contracts that give the SP the right to increase charges at any time during the term of the contract. We believe that to be ludicrous, but I can assure you that such contracts exist… and you might be surprised by who the main offenders are…and, then again, you might not be surprised.

OFCOM have been very proactive here in recent times by ensuring that some of the more oppressive tactics used by SPs to retain customers (such as automatic renewal of rolling contracts) are no longer lawful. This particularly applies to smaller organisations of up to 10 employees.

Our advice – Examine the Contractual arrangement that you have in place with your supplier and ensure that it fits your needs…not the preferences of the supplier. If it doesn’t meet your needs or you feel that there are onerous conditions, ask the supplier to change the contract conditions. If they refuse, put them on notice that you are switching to a supplier with more favourable conditions.

Contract small Print? – Now, I’m a calm, placid type of person but this makes me angry. The small print exists for one reason only…to mislead. To give an unbalanced view of the merits (or otherwise) of buying a product or service. The small print usually contains the less desirable or onerous aspects of entering into a transaction. Whilst this is a generally accepted and commercially lawful device….for me, it is morally repugnant.

One Example – We have all seen those unlimited and/or fully inclusive deals. Be very, very careful. An examination of the small print will almost certainly show that the deal applies to certain call types only…ie, only 01 02 and 03 numbers and only up to 1 hour. Other call types attract horrendous, punitive rates and set-up charges. Go over 1 hour and the call costs a great deal more than the standard tariff.

Our advice – Never use a supplier who has any onerous small print. There is a reason that they do not want you to notice these conditions. The worst culprits (in my experience) are the larger, more traditional Operators who service their customers via call centres. Their business models are based on getting you to sign up to a contract and then making it as difficult as possible for you to get out…irrespective of whether they are providing you with acceptable service.

Question – Why do customers not switch to a better, cheaper, more local responsive supplier?

Answer – Market Inertia… or to put it another way, I can’t be bothered. It’s not that important to me. Suppliers rely on Market Inertia in order that they can get away with poor customer service.

Our advice – If you are not entirely happy with your supplier, switch. If it’s not that important to you…It should be.