#mobile operator #EE has been fined £2,700,000 by the telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, for overcharging thousands of #Customers in the United Kingdom. The telecommunications watchdog found that one of Britain's biggest mobile networks had broken a billing rule on several separate occasions.
A catalogue of errors
EE users who contacted the 150 customer services phone number whilst in the European Union were erroneously charged as if they had called the United States. Consequently, customers were charged £1.20 a minute rather than 19p per minute. That meant that more than 32,000 customers were overcharged for an estimated total of £245,000.
Although calls and texts to the 150 customer services phone number became free on the 15th November 2015, EE continued to bill more than 7,600 customers until the 11th January 2016.
Ofcom's consumer group director, Lindsey Fussell said: "We all rely on big businesses to get the simplest things right and that certainly includes the right bills. We uncovered a catalogue of errors... quite simply, mistakes like this are completely unacceptable. With the fine, we hope to send a clear message to the industry: overcharging customers will not be tolerated".
The fine will go to the treasury. When asked by reporters if she believed fining multi-million-pound companies worked, Fussell stated: "We think that the fine is sizable and should act as a deterrent in the future".
EE, the sponsors of the BAFTAs, responded by releasing a statement. "We wholeheartedly accept the findings of the report and we apologise unreservedly to all those affected by the charges. We have put measures in place to prevent this from occurring again. For those customers that we couldn't identify, we donated the remaining fees to charitable causes in line with Ofcom's guidelines. Providing the best network experience and customer service is our priority. On this occasion, we have failed our customers but we have put preventative measures in place. We assure our customers that this won't happen again".
At this stage, the majority of the customers affected by overcharging have been refunded, although EE couldn't identify around 6,900 people who were more than £60,000 out of pocket. Former Labour leader Ed Milliband said: "This is a fantastic result for the common people in the face of big business".
EE donated £62,000 to charity as a peace offering, but Ofcom has demanded that EE makes a concerted effort to trace down every customer that was overcharged.Similarly, in October, Ofcom fined Vodafone a record £4.6 million for a "serious breach of consumer protection rules".