September 28, 2018 / 7:30 AM / 3 months ago

UK regulator to probe "rip off" providers after super complaint

LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Britain’s competition regulator said it would investigate concerns by customers of mobile, broadband, home insurance, mortgages and savings providers that they are being “ripped off” after charity Citizens Advice made a super complaint.

Citizens Advice said on Friday that overcharged customers were losing 4.1 billion pounds ($5.2 billion) a year and called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to outline how the problem can be fixed.

The CMA said it would consider the concerns raised and what should be done about them. This will include engagement with relevant regulators such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Ofcom. It will publish a response within 90 days.

“The practice of overcharging loyal customers is widespread and Citizens Advice has repeatedly warned that loyal consumers are being ripped off,” said Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy.

The charity said its research had found that eight in ten people were paying a significantly higher price, in at least one of the markets, for remaining with their existing supplier.

“It beggars belief that companies in regulated markets can get away with routinely punishing their customers simply for being loyal,” said Guy.

“As a result of this super-complaint, the CMA should come up with concrete measures to end this systematic scam.”

The super-complaint is the fourth the charity has made since being given the power in 2002.

It said its complaint on payment protection insurance (PPI) in 2005 has helped customers receive 32.2 billion pounds in refunds and compensation so far.

The CMA said possible outcomes of its investigation include making recommendations to government to change legislation, action by sectoral regulators and taking competition or consumer enforcement action. ($1 = 0.7652 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)

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