A verbal contract is as binding as a written one, but slamming is unacceptable
I have used Supanet as my internet service provider since 2005. About three months ago I received a phone call asking if I was satisfied with the company’s service and I said I was.
The phone call then went along the lines of “so fine you will be staying with us then”. I said “probably” as I had no intention of migrating until just before Christmas. When I asked for my migration authorisation code I was told I had signed up to a new contract and still had nine months left to run.
Mr Cawthorne told us that as far as he was concerned the phone call he had received from Supanet was just a courtesy call. He had originally signed up with Supanet on an 18-month contract, but considered this no longer existed and he was just on a rolling month-to-month contract.
So Mr Cawthorne was furious to find he would now have to pay £165 for the remaining months if he wanted to sign up with another ISP.
This is quite a difficult problem. A verbal contract is as binding as a written contract, but the issue is whether Mr Cawthorne understood he was agreeing to a new contract during this phone call?
Supanet may have a recording of the call that proves it made this information clear, as it is obliged to. We will contact Supanet on Mr Cawthorne’s behalf to try to mediate in this situation. It could be argued that this is ‘slamming’, but in reverse. Slamming is the dubious practice of calling a person and switching their provider without them realising it.
Ofcom, the communications regulator takes a dim view of this practice. “Slamming is a form of mis-selling where you’re switched from one company to another without your knowledge or consent.
“Slamming is unacceptable and Ofcom has introduced tough new rules to clamp down on this problem. Telecoms firms found breaching our rules can now face fines of up to 10 per cent of their turnover,” Ofcom has said.
Mr Cawthorne may himself like to make an official complaint to the regulator about this kind of practice.
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