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More providers supporting the MAC migration process
Monday 02 August 2004 15:38:00 by Andrew Ferguson

As is normal on days like this, the list of providers supporting the MAC migration process increases hourly, currently the list here has 22 providers listed. The Code of Practice would also have a lot more signatures if it were not for the following clause. Another reason so few providers appear to support the process, is that some have been caught out by the speed of adoption of the new MAC number scheme.

"The existing service provider cannot withhold an authorisation code to enforce debt collection or contractual rights. However, customers are not freed from contractual obligations they have entered in to with their existing service provider - i.e.: they will have to honour the remaining term of an existing contract or pay early cancellation fees, if applicable. An existing service provider will still be able to take reasonable action to enforce their contractual rights even after a customer has migrated to a new service provider."

A number of providers have expressed a dislike for this clause, as they see it provides a mechanism for people to change ISPs leaving a trail of bad debt behind them. The Ofcom wording looks very much like a gift to a lot of users, since it lets people migrate from a contract even if inside the minimum contract period, and puts the onus on the service provider to chase for any remaining months service to be paid. In some ways this swing towards benefiting the consumer is welcome, but the concern is that some consumers may exploit this clause to the detriment of the providers. Providers who are left to chase perhaps £50 or £100 via debt collection routes, will find it costs almost that much to get the money back off the user.

Of course the ISP does not need to sign the Code of Practice for a MAC migration to be able to take place. Ideally what is needed is some form of dispute resolution process, that can handle disputes such as when a user is with an ISP on a 12 month contract, but service is poor and wishes to migrate, but ISP refuses.

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