AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Telephone and broadband

Contents

Telecommunication problems

Telecommunications services include telephone, mobile and internet (including broadband) services. If you experience problems with your service provider for any of these types of service, you should proceed as follows:

First steps

The first step is to get in touch with the service provider concerned. Their address can be found on top of the bill or on the web. If the problem is to do with the amount of the bill, the company will check their records and report back to you. All telecommunications service providers are required to have formal customer complaints processes. If you contact them about your compliant and they don't have a complaints process, you should contact the telecommunications watchdog, Ofcom. If your formal complaint doesn't solve your problem, you can try your phone company's Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme to try to sort out the problem. All telecommunications service providers are obliged to have ADR schemes. If your service provider doesn't have one, you should contact Ofcom. More on this process can be found below.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

The ADR scheme acts as an independent middleman between the company and the customer. If the company is found to be at fault, the ADR scheme can order the company to fix the problem and pay compensation if it decides this is necessary.

It is important to bear in mind that you should only take this step after you have taken the first steps listed above and made a formal complaint to your telephone company and you have received an unsatisfactory response, or 12 weeks have passed since you first lodged your complaint without response from the telephone company.

If this is the case for you and you would like to make use of the company's ADR scheme, you can find their details on the back of your phone bill or from the company's customer service personnel. Your phone company may be a member of one of the Ofcom-approved ADR schemes. Should you not get the results you were looking for from the ADR scheme, you may take your complaint to Ofcom.

Finally, if Ofcom cannot address your complaint, you will need to take the matter to court.

For more information, see our 'How to make a claim' section.

Contact details for the various ADR schemes are set out below.

ADR schemes

If your telephone company is unable to resolve your dispute, you can approach the Ombudsman Services: Communications or the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS).

In order to use Ombudsman Services, your telephone company needs to be one of their members. Check their list of participating companies.

CISAS

CISAS (Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme) may be able to help you with a complaint about a phone company, if the company is a member of the CISAS scheme. You must have used the phone company's own complaints procedure first.

Visit CISAS's website for more information.

Ofcom

Ofcom can force telecommunications service providers to reply to a complaint and to justify an amount charged on the bill. They can also ensure that the service provider does not break any of their regulations.

Ofcom does not have the power to decide who is right or wrong or what should be done about a dispute between you and your telephone company. The aim of an Ofcom investigation is to achieve an amicable settlement of the dispute. They act as an impartial intermediary.

If you would like to contact Ofcom, you can do it via the web or in letter format.

Visit Ofcom's website to get a more detailed account of in-house procedures.