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Telco E sells technical support to customers who do not understand or need it

The complaint
Telco E sells technical support to customers who do not understand or need it
The outcome
Telco E retrained its staff about the service. It also gave customers who were signed up to the service the option to cancel without a cancellation fee

The issue

Telco E offers its customers a basic level of technical support for free. Customers who want extra help with technical problems can sign up for a paid service and choose from different options depending on the type of help they need. Support can be either in-home or over the telephone, and one-off or ongoing.

Many customers of Telco E contacted us to say they were being charged for a paid service when they did not want or need it. Some said they agreed to a one-off charge but were then charged each month. Some said they felt pressured into signing up for the service. And others said they had not signed up for the service and only became aware of it when charges appeared on their phone bill.

The investigation

Our complaints showed many of these customers had signed up to the service relying on Telco E to offer the most suitable option. We began a systemic investigation after identifying a concerning number of complaints showing Telco E had:

  • disproportionately signed up customers who were less technically minded (including those who were elderly or not proficient in English) 
  • sold the service to customers who did not understand, need, or benefit from it (some problems were covered by the free support offered by the provider)
  • sold a level of service beyond what some customers needed and, in some cases, could afford
  • added the service without a customer knowing and without keeping a record of the sale.

Customers in these groups who asked Telco E to cancel the service were commonly told they would have to pay a cancellation fee.

The outcome

In response to our investigation, Telco E reviewed its sales practices and retrained its staff about the service. It also gave customers who were signed up to the service the option to cancel without a cancellation fee.

We continue to work with Telco E to improve its sales practices.

How we've helped other customers

Complaint
Telco C credits customers who received high bills after using a ‘pre-paid’ service
Outcome
We worked with Telco C to help it improve the information it gave customers about possible data charges
Complaint
Telco D’s advertising does not include possible costs of ‘free’ trial
Outcome
Some customers were entitled to a remedy such as ending the contract or receiving a refund