Ofcom slaps £2.7 million fine on EE for overcharging customers

Wednesday, January 18th 2017

The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has slapped a fine of £2.7 million on EE, the giant mobile network operator of UK, for overcharging some 40,000 of its customers. They were discovered to have overcharged for calls to their own customer service number '150'. Subscribers while roaming within the EU, when calling '150', were charge £1.20 per minute, instead of the 19p per minute they had to pay. At least 34,145 subscribers were unfairly overcharged, that totalled to some £245,700.

Ofcom found, in their investigation, on the part of EE "carelessness or negligence" contributed to the billing error. Ofcom intervened because EE decided not to reimburse most of the customers although they had not intended to make money from the error. EE has refunded most of those they could identify, but for those they couldn't, they made a donation to charity.

On a separate occurrence, despite making it a free to use service, EE billed its customers for texting to the '150' number. Tthat happened between 18 November 2015 and 11January 2016. Some 7,674 were overcharged, that totalled to £2,203.33. However, EE took prompt action here to refund fully those affected, Ofcom found.Ofcom has allowed a 10% reduction to the £2.7 million fine. This is for EE's agreement to enter a formal settlement, Ofcom said. However, the fine has to be paid within 20 working days.

Consumer group director at Ofcom, Lindsey Fussell, said it was unacceptable that EE had not taken enough care to ensure billing was accurate for customers and it cost customers thousands. The director said they cannot tolerate such careless mistakes and also monitor phone companies' billing. Any company breaking rules can expect similar consequences, Lindsey Fussell added.

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