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Business briefing: Internet and phone users must be told of best deals

BROADBAND, TV, mobile and home phone companies will have to tell customers when their contract is coming to an end and show them the best deals available under new rules from Ofcom.

The move could see up to 20million customers benefit by switching provider or agreeing a new deal with their existing one, the telecoms regulator said.

People who bundle their landline and broadband services together pay on average around 20 per cent more when they are out of contract — rising to 26 per cent among customers who bundle in their pay-TV services.

Around one in seven customers do not know whether they are still tied to the original deal, according to Ofcom.

‘We’re making sure customers are treated fairly, by making companies give them the information they need, when they need it,’ Ofcom consumer group director Lindsey Fussell said. ‘This will put power in the hands of millions of people who are paying more than necessary when they are no longer tied to a contract.’

The changes will involve providers sending tailored information to millions of individual customers.

This will have to include the contract end date, the price before this date, any proposed changes and the best deals offered by their provider.

Ofcom said the new rules would not come into force until February 15 next year, giving companies nine months to make the necessary changes to their systems and processes to make sure they ‘get this right’.

Walmart is checking out flotation for Asda

ASDA’S US owner is ‘seriously considering’ a stock market flotation for the supermarket chain after the proposed £12billion merger with Sainsbury’s was blocked by the competitions watchdog. Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, bought Asda in 1999 for £6.7billion. The move has sparked speculation it may try to sell the chain, which is under pressure from Aldi and Lidl. International chief executive Judith McKenna said yesterday that the company was ‘not rushing into anything’ and preparations for any flotation would ‘take years’.

BUSINESS BITES

■ PUB and brewer Marston’s stockpiled £6million of beer amid fears over a no-deal Brexit. The Pitcher & Piano owner revealed it had built up stocks as it announced a £19.2million profit, up from a £13.4million loss last year.

■ CHAPEL Down has become the biggest winemaker in England after planting a new 388-acre vineyard next to its 400-acre existing site near Maidstone, Kent. The new vines will mainly be chardonnay.

■ B&Q owner Kingfisher said the DIY chain saw a sales bounceback after warm Easter weather. It reported 2.8 per cent growth in like-for-like sales in the three months to April 30, after bad weather last year saw sales drop.

■ LUXURY car maker Aston Martin Lagonda has reported a £17.3million pre-tax loss for the three months to March, down from a £2.8million profit in 2018. The company blames a drop in sales of higher-priced ‘special’ cars.

■ CHINESE phone maker OnePlus has unveiled a 5G smartphone, ready for the launch of the next-generation mobile network in the UK. The 7 Pro 5G is due to go on sale next week, starting at £649.