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European smartphone shipments fall to lowest Q1 total since 2013

A new report from Counterpoint Research's Market Monitor service shows European smartphone shipments dropping by 12% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022. That's the lowest Q1 total since 2013.
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Qualcomm legal action moves forward in the UK

Qualcomm legal action moves forward in the UK

Which? seeks payout for Samsung and Apple smartphone owners

Consumer protection organisation Which? has been given permission by the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal to represent Apple and Samsung smartphone buyers in a legal case against chip manufacturer Qualcomm.
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Google announces new devices

Google announces new devices

Pixel Watch, smartphones, earbuds and more

Google's 2022 I/O conference for developers has seen the company previewing new products, including its Pixel 7 smartphone, a Pixel tablet and the first smartwatch entirely built by Google.
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UK advertising watchdog says Tesco Mobile ads were offensive

UK advertising watchdog says Tesco Mobile ads were offensive

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a number of recent Tesco Mobile advertisements were likely to cause "serious and widespread offence".

Newspaper ads, digital outdoor posters and a Twitter post were investigated after 52 complaints.
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Apple launches self-service repairs in the USA

Apple launches self-service repairs in the USA

DIY iPhone repairers can now order official spares

Apple has launched 'Self Service Repair' in the USA, enabling consumers to obtain repair manuals, Apple parts and tools from an official Repair Store. The service will be expanded into additional countries later this year.
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Opinion Articles

Thursday, July 23, 2020

New Ofcom guidance to protect vulnerable customers

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has detailed some of the practical measures that phone, broadband and pay TV companies could adopt to protect vulnerable customers.

New conditions introduced in October 2018 required these companies to implement policies and procedures that ensure vulnerable customers are treated fairly. These cover people who are in debt, suffering physical or mental health problems, bereaved or victims of crime.

However, Ofcom notes that the coronavirus pandemic has increased the likelihood of customers' circumstances changing suddenly. It notes that 14.1 million people in the UK have a disability, 2.5 million people are living with cancer, almost 1 million people are affected by dementia, 1 in 6 adults experience common mental health problem every week and (in the last quarter of 2019) an average of 318 people were declared bankrupt or insolvent every day.

Jane Rumble, Director of Consumer Policy at Ofcom, said "We're setting out industry best practice to help ensure vulnerable people are treated fairly and sympathetically by their phone, broadband and pay TV providers. This is especially important at a time when many customers may be worried about their physical and mental health, as well as their finances."

Under Ofcom's guidelines, companies must publish clear, up-to-date policies which are easy to understand. It recommends that providers consult with experts, consumer bodies and charities to strengthen their understanding of different vulnerable customers' needs. In addition, it says providers should ask customers at the earliest opportunity whether they have any accessibility or customer service needs that the provider can help with.

Peter Tutton, Head of Policy, Research and Public Affairs at StepChange Debt Charity, said "We are really pleased to see the recognition that customers in arrears will generally be vulnerable, and the regulatory expectation that firms will give them the support they need through breathing space, affordable repayment plans, social tariffs, or referrals to debt charities like us for more holistic debt advice. Communications services are vital tools of modern life, without which many vulnerable people would simply be unable to access other support services. Maintaining access on an affordable basis can play a crucial part in helping people get back on their feet financially in a wider sense."
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