Dropping price controls left consumers in the dark, says PAC

The removal of price controls from telecoms has left consumers without the information they need to get the best deal, according to ministers. The...

The removal of price controls from telecoms has left consumers without the information they need to get the best deal, according to ministers.

The influential Public Accounts Committee said today that the removal of price controls from telecoms, alonside energy and business postal services has failed to generate the expected market pressures that would benefit consumers.

"Consumers simply do not have the kind of good quality information needed to get the best deals on price and service," it said in a report published this morning.

It said a National Audit Office survey showed that one in four electricity consumers who had switched supplier paid more. "Recent Ofgem research indicates the proportion might be even higher. And telecoms customers could well be having the same problem," it said.

The PAC said one in six telecoms customers said it was hard to find out what telecoms companies offer. It was also hard to find out how to complain and to get redress for complaints.

It called on Ofcom to research whether telecoms customers are also inadvertently switching to more expensive suppliers, and whether telecom suppliers are sticking to agreed redress schemes.

The PAC noted that UK telecoms prices had fallen, but said they were still above those of several European countries. Ofcom's annual customer satisfaction survey showed that customers are generally happy with what they get.

Where they were unhappy and their service provider could not resolve the issue, the PAC said they should use either of the two dispute resolution services, Otelo or CICAS, or to contact Ofcom if those fail.

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