Saturday, 30 May 2015

Anti slamming service

The new OFCOM rules on migration (from 20th June) eliminate "Migration Authorisation Codes" (MAC) and allow migration that is "gaining provider led". This means a provider can migrate the phone line or broadband to themselves.

We will get a notice of this, and have 10 working days before it happens. We tell our customer, and if they do not respond then the migration goes ahead.


Well, yes and no.

For a start there is "slamming". If someone has one of the services, e.g. phone line, they would already have in place the billing, and know the phone number and postcode, so could just migrate the broadband to them. Obviously they are meant to have an order from the end user customer for this (though defining who can make such an order is complex). They may have an "um, sounds interesting" on a call recording to the line from someone as a "proof" that the migration is valid.

I really hope slamming will not happen.

But then there are mistakes, and that is perhaps more likely. Someone mistyping a phone number or postcode on an order and it matches, so the migration goes through. And who pays for such mistakes?

Yes, we have to send our customer a notice, but that could easily be missed.

So, we are planning to launch an "anti-slamming" service!

This is a tad complex, after all, OFCOM have tried to stop this in the General Conditions stating
22.19 Where paragraphs 22.16 and 22.17 apply, and without prejudice to the generality of paragraph 22.18, a Losing Provider shall not require, in particular, the granting of consent by it, nor the provision of any information (such as a MAC) by it to the End-User, in order for a Communications Provider Migration to be put into effect. 
So, asking for "consent" is not allowed. This means we'll be taking a set of "standing instructions" to reject all migrations. No consent requested at migration at all. So we comply.

We'll be adding a link / option on the control pages to allow customers to make such standing instructions. The email we send when we reject a migration will include a link to revoke such instructions and so allow a migrate to go ahead in future if wanted.

Of course the whole thing is a can of worms anyway - if our customer has more than 10 people working for them then we can reject it anyway and none of the rules apply - and there are services that will not be easy to migrate simply because they have no "phone number". It will be fun.

P.S. Just added link to control pages for customers to select or cancel this now. We have announced on the web pages, status pages, twitter, and Facebook now. Within minutes, on a Sunday afternoon, we have over 50 lines set up for anti-slamming and after an hour over 1% of our lines have it enabled.


  1. The clause refers to "consent by it (the Provider)", there's no mention of the user's consent there.

    The "ten staff" thing is ludicrous - does Ofcom expect my local coffee shop to count up all the waiting staff and cleaners to determine whether or not they can change ISP for their hotspot now?

    I like the lock idea though - just like I have now on some of my domains, I can choose to lock or unlock the domain. If locked, nobody can submit a transfer request; if I do want to transfer it, I just click "unlock" before placing the order and everything works fine.

    (At the other end of the scale, my grandfather was talked into switching phone companies earlier this year by a cold-caller - an expensive mistake, and with few or no safeguards.)

    1. Yeh, I re-read that when posting and wondered if I had read that the wrong way around. Even so, just means an anti-slamming service is even more legit,

  2. So... you can be slammed and have your communications capability removed from you with less than two weeks notice (hope you never go on holiday!) *unless* you're a non-small employer, in which case you suddenly have rights?

    What a sodding awful system. (I can understand the point of it -- it stops failing or disastrously incompetent ISPs from locking people to them indefinitely -- but holy crap, could they come up with nothing better than this?!)

    1. "*unless* you're a non-small employer, in which case you suddenly have rights?"

      It's even dumber than that - if you have more than ten staff, you no longer have *any* rights in this respect. Want to switch ISP or telco? You might have to install a whole new line and cease the old one, if they don't decide to be helpful.

      In fact, the place I work for part-time has six directors and four other staff - plus a student on work-experience part of each year. Presumably under Ofcom's new insane rules this means if we want to switch ISP or telco again, we'll have to do it between interns?!

  3. Wow, that's just backwards.

    Imagine if you could simply close your bank account with a single letter. Oh wait, bad example!

    In this day and age anything like that is ripe for abuse - you only have to look at how the gas and electric systems for switching have been abused!

    I can't be the only person who has had a call from retension for a switch they know nothing about!
    Very foolish.

  4. This is a great idea. I can see the benefits of a GPL process for users — particularly in terms of migrating from broadband suppliers who attempt to make a "save" — but all ISPs should offer this facility, to lessen the risk of being slammed.

    I've signed up.