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Author Topic: Ofcom Accused of Ignoring SME Overcharging by UK Mobile Operators  (Read 377 times)


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A new report from Billmonitor has accused Ofcom of showing “little interest” in tackling the allegedly “Wild West” market for B2B mobile services. The investigation claimed that only one in ten small businesses get a “fair deal” from their mobile operator and EE is the most expensive UK provider for business contracts.

The report states that Billmonitor sent several Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to Ofcom asking whether its data confirmed differences in average bills between the “big three” providers (i.e. EE, Vodafone and O2). After being denied a number of FOI requests, the regulator eventually confirmed – in February 2018 – that there is a 15-20% cost difference between the cheapest and most expensive mobile provider for business services.

Unfortunately Ofcom refused to identify the most expensive provider and suggested that significant spend differences might be attributable to differences in usage, although they failed to provide any evidence to back up this assertion. More recently the regulator has said there are “issues” with their data, which they claimed “cannot now be considered reliable.”

In response Billmonitor built its own model by analysing bills from 356 businesses (covering thousands of mobile connections), which they claim “accounted for differences in usage.”

Key Findings

* The study found, with 89.9% confidence, that EE was the most expensive of the big three providers for business services.

* By comparison O2 was found to be more expensive than Vodafone, with 75% confidence.

* The data suggests a 16.3% cost difference between the ‘big three’ mobile providers, for the average SME customer.

* Only 1 in 10 SMEs get a fair deal from their providers and as a result UK SMEs could be overpaying by a collective £1bn on their mobile bills.

* Larger SMEs seem to be cut the worst deals from mobile providers and can each save, on average, over £24,000 per year.

    Dr Stelios Koundouros, Billmonitor’s Founder and Director, said:

    “It is staggering that in a market so critical for businesses, there isn’t oversight to prevent SMEs falling victim to what is becoming its own ‘Wild West’. We call on the CMA to investigate the business telecoms market, to take over the job Ofcom seems to show little interest in despite Billmonitor’s three year-long pleas, and ensure SMEs of all sizes get a fair deal when procuring a mobile provider.

    The fact that one provider can charge firms with similar average usage significantly more than another is a symptom of a broken market that needs fixing. As we move into the post-Brexit era, empowering the UK’s SMEs with fairness and transparency – as the CMA successfully did for the energy market, whose uncompetitiveness was only half as costly for SMEs – should be a key point on the government’s agenda.”
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Re: Ofcom Accused of Ignoring SME Overcharging by UK Mobile Operators
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2018, 01:25:20 PM »

15-20% cost difference is nothing tho.  Why do so many people think every service is equal and that must mean something that costs more must be a ripoff?

Its like saying a ferrari is a ripoff because a ford escort is cheaper.

I have used EE, O2 and three, and they not equal services.
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Re: Ofcom Accused of Ignoring SME Overcharging by UK Mobile Operators
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2018, 01:49:16 PM »

Perhaps I'm being slow, but I dont get the 'Wild West' reference which to me implies outlaws?

Surely you pay your money and take your choice to get the best deal available depending upon what you require from the service.   Would they also consider the broadband industry wild west because you have ISPs such as Zen & AAISP who charge more for the same connection speeds.. and that business broadband rates are more than residential broadband rates?

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Re: Ofcom Accused of Ignoring SME Overcharging by UK Mobile Operators
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2018, 02:06:03 AM »

I couldn’t agree more. It’s none of these self-promoters’ business to decide for me what my purchasing choices, priorities and value judgements should be. They don’t know my priorities.

Do they think we are all morons and can’t make decisions so we need the nanny state interfering and protecting us? Encouraging race-to-the-bottom price wars - because price cutting is all the matters, surely - is very often an eventual disaster for us all, and if people are a capable of being a little less shortsighted and shorttermist than usual then they might just wake up to that fact.

It sounds to me like Wild West actually equates to extremely healthy diversity.