Mobile provider EE fined £2.7M for overcharging
Wed 18 Jan 2017
Ofcom, the British telecom regulatory watchdog, has fined mobile network operator EE a hefty 2.7M GBP for overcharging customers. EE, a multi-billion dollar mobile company with over 30 million subscribers, was required to refund customers for the overcharge in addition to the 2.7 million fine.
Billing errors occurred when customers dialed the EE customer service number from an international location.
The overcharge affected over 30,000 customers who were charged US rather than EU roaming rates. Customers ended up being charged over a pound per minute more than they should have been, resulting in a total overcharge to customers of 245,000 GBP.
Some customers were also mistakenly charged for calling and texting customer service even after EU roaming charges were completely eliminated in 2015.
Lindsey Fussell, consumer group director for Ofcom, said that EE was careless in its billing practices and that the negligence displayed was “completely unacceptable.” Ofcom also criticized the company for failing to reimburse customers once the error was uncovered.
“EE didn’t take enough care to ensure that its customers were billed accurately,” Fussell said. She noted that Ofcom would not tolerate careless mistakes in billing practices, and added, “Any company that breaks Ofcom’s rules should expect similar consequences.”
EE apologized to its customers, and a spokesman for the company said, “We have put measures in place to prevent this from happening again, and have contacted the majority of customers to apologise and provide a full refund.”
“Following Ofcom’s findings, we have made a number of additional improvements to our systems and policies to allow us better to support our customers in the rare occasion that billing issues do occur.”
Most customers have been refunded for the erroneous charges, although the company said they were unable to identify almost 7000 customers for refunds. Instead, the company donated 62,000 GBP to charity.
Last October, Ofcom fined Vodafone 4.6 million GBP for “serious and sustained breaches of consumer protection rules.” That fine, for inaccurate billing and poor complaints procedures, was the largest leveled at a mobile provider to date. Ofcom, which will assume regulatory responsibilities for the BBC in April, is currently in discussions with the broadcaster over an increase in licensing fees.