A BT discount scheme offered in partnership with BSkyB has been sensationally stopped after Oftel?s director general ordered it to cease under Section 16 of the Telecommunictions Act.
The promotion, which was open to new and existing members of BT's Friends and Family discount scheme, offered participating customers savings on installation and monthly charges for BSkyB's television services.
Customers were also offered a reduction equivalent to five and a half hours of local telephone calls off their BT phone bills every month for a year. This #3.30 per month credit was to be paid to BT by BSkyB.
Don Cruikshank, director general at Oftel, said: ?BT is paying for the television advertising and certain marketing costs of a special offer under which members of its Friends and Family Scheme may qualify for discounts, on both their telephone bills and BSkyB?s television service. It seems to me that this promotion is discrimanatory in that it targets, and offers continuing benefits to, only those who become and remain customers of both BT and BSkyB.?
He added that the offer would have the effect of ?unfairly distorting or reducing competition in the supply of telephone services.?
A BT spokesman said: "We cannot fathom the Director General's conclusion that the promotion shows undue discrimination or preference between groups of BT customers. It was a great opportunity open to all our customers.?
He added: "Competition should mean all players working ever harder to win and retain customers and business. This promotion was a classic opportunity to help grow the overall market.
"In a competitive market, customers demand an innovative range of products and services, like the BSkyB promotion, which offers them great added value. Today has been a bad day for customers, but BT will continue to put them first."
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