Portal Voice and Data Ltd, the nationwide distributors of NEC telephone key systems and applications, has been warning small and medium businesses of the dangers of slamming. The warning comes as complaints against hard-sell telephone companies rise to 21,000 per month and as Portal was asked to appear on regional BBC news to discuss the issue.
Every year, businesses lose millions of pounds to telecom-related fraud and abuse, and this will only increase as businesses purchase more telecommunications services from a growing number of providers. Slamming has been rife in the States for some time and is now becoming more frequent in the UK. Slamming involves moving telephone lines without permission, which means that a new company becomes your service provider. This is an illegal activity, which can lead to higher charges and, when changing the lines back to the original carrier, can mean losing the phone number. All that is required to slam is the business’s name and phone number. The fraudulent company then notifies the local phone company, which performs the switching, that you have agreed to the change.
Slamming is becoming one of the biggest telecommunications problems facing businesses. Portal Voice and Data Ltd has been contacted to rectify numerous incidents of slamming. The latest case is for Sampson Ltd, East Anglia’s largest and most experienced manufacturer and installer of all types of blinds. Sampsons lost six of their seven telephone lines for five days because of slamming. The problem was only discovered when Sampsons decided to transfer their lines to Portal.
John Corney, Managing Director at Portal, comments: “The problem happened when slammers placed orders on BT based on inaccurate records which reduced Sampsons lines from seven to one.” Portal rectified the problem in just five days.
Andrew Chalk, Managing Director of Sampsons, comments; “I couldn’t believe it when I found out we had been slammed, you hear about this going on but don’t assume it would happen to your business without knowing. We have been lucky in the sense that we haven’t been incorrectly or over-charged for the last two years, however, I dread to think of the new business calls we have missed due to the concentration of calls going into one line instead of seven. It is very disappointing and infuriating that a business can do this to you.”
Another problem affecting the industry are ‘too good to be true’ contracts, giving suppliers the right to increase call and line rental rates at random and enforcing huge penalties on the customer on termination of the agreement. These deals are tempting to businesses with large phone bills looking to reduce line rental and per minute costs. It is increasingly common for customers to view their telephone system as a commodity so businesses are attracted by what appears to be the most cost effective system.
John Corney concludes: “These unethical telecoms suppliers are threatening the financial stability of small and medium sized businesses – they can cause an increase in monthly bills of up to 300 per cent and can cost thousands of pounds in cancellation penalties but are completely legal, because everything is stated in the small print. We have been bringing these cases to light in East Anglia to try and repair the reputation of the industry and customer faith in telecomm services, and have appeared on the regional news drawing this situation to as many people’s attention as possible – businesses and consumers who are also increasingly being subjected to slamming. We want to see stronger regulations put in place to stop this and we ask others in the industry to do the same.”