Until the middle of last month, like many of you, if we had heard the expression ‘phone slamming’ we would have assumed it referred to the practice of slamming the phone receiver down following a particularly angry exchange… then again in these times of mobiles and handsets it is pretty much a lost art.
These days, ‘phone slamming’ refers to a practice whereby a phone company will request a phone line from a rival company for one of its own customers.
Quite simply, Company A will contact Company B and say ‘we want that phone line for our customer’.
Under Ofcom rules, all Company B has to do is notify its customer that they are about to lose their phone line.
Again, under Ofcom rules, this notification need only be a solitary email, and it will read something along the lines of: “We’re sad to hear that you’ve requested to cancel your Plusnet services, but we’ve done as you asked and placed your cancellation request.”
Now note, we never requested to cancel our services.
Said email might divert to your junk mail, you may see it and dismiss it as spam, you might be on holiday and miss it. Either way, unless you react by the given date you will lose your phone line and with it your internet access.
On August 21 we received such an email from Plusnet in reference to our business line. We immediately contacted Plusnet and made it clear that we were not seeking to cancel our service.
It was then that we were told about ‘slamming’.
A follow-up email from Plusnet assured us that the matter was resolved and there was no threat to our service.
Today, our service was withdrawn.
On contacting Plusnet we were informed that though the first cancellation request had been acted upon, a follow-up cancellation was made six days later on the 27 August and that an email had been sent. It was never received.
Just to be clear, a third party – in this case EE – wanted our phone line for one of its own customers and Plusnet was giving it to them. We had no say in the matter.
On contacting Plusnet this morning, they admitted that the line had been “slammed” but that they had done everything by the book. Our insistence that the matter had previously been dealt with, that we never sought to cancel the service and that we are a business whose phoneline is its lifeline was met with the monotone corporate speak you will all be familiar with.
While an email said there would be a “an early termination charge of £352.75 to pay upon cancellation”, we were also told that under Ofcom rules we could not be connected again within 14 days.
When we tweeted about this earlier today, Ofcom huffily responded saying that ‘phone slamming’ is “not allowed”. Perhaps not, but it is happening, and has been happening for more than a decade.
The briefest of Googles will reveal that this is not an uncommon practice and is happening to business and residential lines.
At the mercy of Plusnet we now have to wait for reconnection, requests for firm information being met with the usual non-committal and corporate baloney which is followed by the excruciatingly annoying sign off, “no worries”.
As a result coverage this weekend will be sparse, and for the first time in 17 years we will not be providing you with the coverage you have grown used to.
However, as I’m sure you’ll understand this is totally out-with our control, so please bear with us… and watch out for those emails from your supplier.
As a footnote, though our line and internet has been taken by EE with the help of Plusnet, EE somehow managed to give us a brand new phone number (though no internet) which begs the question, why didn’t they give this number to their customer instead of taking ours?
Ofcom on Slamming here
Subsequent communications from Plusnet
Thursday 13 September 11:07
As per conversation – I have reviewed your order and a USR was required to be sent off to restore the service as a matter of urgency. The phone line restore has been accepted and it is due to be restored by today 13/09/18.
The broadband will need to be expedited the phone line is active. we will review this for you again on Friday 14/09/18.
Friday 14 September 22:40
I have requested a FOC expedite via Openreach and I will get someone to call the fibre help-desk in the morning to see if they can bring the installation date forward.
I am sorry that the line was taken over but we are working hard to get the service running again.
USR update, PSTN is active but Fibre is set to 26th Sept:
Saturday 15 September 08:41
Thank you for your patience regarding this matter.
I have spoke with the FTTC team regarding the Urgent Service Restoration and they have been able to bring the date forward to an AM appointment on the 18th September 2018.
This is the earliest date they are able to perform the installation as additional order is needed to get the service ready in the meantime.
We will continue to monitor the order and update you accordingly regarding this.
Tuesday 18 September 15:51
I have checked the Fibre order and unfortunately this is currently delayed due to an exception which is stopping this progressing. I have therefore raised an escalation into our supplier to request assistance in progressing this order as the team have had to raise a Bridge case that takes 5 working days to complete typically. That said our supplier is saying that the circuit is still ‘left in Fibre jumper’, therefore the bridge case is to complete the order. I was calling to check if the router on site is picking up Fibre sync or not? If it is then if we can ask that you do a reboot of the router to see if this connects. We will continue to pursue the order to have this marked as completed as soon as possible for you.