Why we need a new consumer advocate for telecommunications consumers

This is the Executive Summary of my submission to BEIS on the Consumer Green Paper “Modernising Consumer Markets”:

This submission only addresses one question in the Green Paper:

Q5: Is there a need to change the consumer advocacy arrangements in the telecommunications sector? If so, what arrangements would be most effective in delivering consumer benefits, including for those who are most vulnerable?

 This submission argues that:

  • Consumer advocacy in telecoms is too weak compared to both past experience and to other regulated sectors and too under-resourced in relation to the needs of consumers who spend significant amounts but experience real detriment in this complex and changing market.
  • A new consumer advocate for telecoms consumers should be established outside the regulator and the most convenient, cost-effective and capable home for such a new advocate would seem to be Citizens Advice. Funding needs to be found quickly and not await a legislative mechanism. Voluntary seed-funding from a group of providers, the allocation of fines, or an industry levy should be considered.
  • A consumer voice within the major companies in the telecommunications sector would complement meaningfully and helpfully the work of existing bodies like the Communications Consumer Panel and the new consumer advocate outside the regulator. BEIS and Ofcom should use their ‘soft power’ to encourage the largest telecoms providers voluntarily to set up such internal consumer advisory groups.

If you would like a copy of the full text of the submission, e-mail me at:


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