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How to tell when you've been slammed

We have recently received reports from some of our members about large, well-known telecoms suppliers using 'slamming', an extreme form of mis-selling, to switch them from their existing telecoms provider without their express knowledge and consent. Here, we tell you how you can tell if you've been 'slammed' and what you can do about it.

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We have recently received reports from some of our members about large, well-known telecoms suppliers using 'slamming', an extreme form of mis-selling, to switch them from their existing telecoms provider without their express knowledge and consent. Here, we tell you how you can tell if you've been 'slammed' and what you can do about it. What is slamming? Slamming is an extreme form of mis-selling where your telephone provider is changed without your apparent consent. You receive a phone call from a network supplier, who tries to sell you the idea of joining or returning to their network. You don't necessarily accept, but by even asking for them to put the offer in writing, you then end up with your current provider receiving communication saying you are cancelling your agreement. Other forms of slamming can include: Where there has been no customer contact at all e.g. the forging of customers' signatures on contracts. "Passing off" - where representatives companies claim to represent a different company from the one they are actually working for When a customer is told they are merely signing for information and are then switched from one provider to another This can result in a financial penalty from your current provider as set out in their cancellation policy, plus loss of the time it takes to get your service returned to your original supplier. This can be very disconcerting for customers, particularly as the first you may know about it is when you receive a bill from a new company out of the blue. Switching process Most slamming happens on landline phones. There are now a number of safeguards built into the switching process to protect consumers from mis-selling and slamming. Complaints Any customers wanting to change provider should receive letters from both their old and new phone company informing them of the impending switch. There is also a 10-day switchover period during which time the consumer is able to stop the order going ahead where they simply change their mind or in cases of mis-selling or slamming. This can be done by simply contacting either the losing or gaining telephone companies and requesting that the switchover does not go ahead. Investigation The Office of Communications (Ofcom), the regulator of the UK's broadcasting, telecommunications and wireless communications sectors, monitors complaints each month and if they suspect something is wrong – usually from a rise in complaints – they can open an investigation and use their powers to gather evidence. If they do take action against companies that engage in slamming, they have the power to fine these companies up to 10% of their turnover. If you think you've been a victim of slamming, let Ofcom know by completing the complaints form on their website.

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