Telecoms regulator, Ofcom has imposed a fine of £2.7 million on mobile operator EE after it was found to have overcharged around 40,000 of its customers.
The nature of the overcharging came when customers who called the company’s 150 customer services number whilst roaming within the EU were charged as if they had called the US.
According to Ofcom, this mistake meant these customers were charged £1.20 per minute, instead of 19p per minute, amassing a total of £245,700 in excess call charges.
“EE didn’t take enough care to ensure that its customers were billed accurately. This ended up costing customers thousands of pounds, which is completely unacceptable,” Ofcom’s consumer group director Lindsey Fussell said.
These charges arose, despite EE having made it free to call or text the 150 number from within the EU as of 18 November 2015, with EE continuing to bill 7,674 customers up until 11 January 2016.
Ofcom ruled EE were in the wrong by failing to identify the people it overcharged, proposing instead to give their money to charity, leaving them out of pocket.
Although the majority of customers have now been refunded, EE was unable to identify at least 6,905 customers, whose total deficit stands at around £60,000.
Despite having made a donation of just under £62,000 to charity in lieu of the payments owed to these customers, Ofcom has said EE must make further attempts to trace and refund every customer who was overcharged.
An EE spokesman said: “We accept these findings and apologise unreservedly to those customers affected by these technical billing issues between 2014 and 2015.
“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.
“For those customers that we could not identify, we donated the remaining excess fees to charitable causes in line with Ofcom’s guidelines.
“Following Ofcom’s findings, we have made a number of additional improvements to our systems and policies to allow us to better support our customers in the rare occasion that billing issues do occur.”
EE is owned by telecoms giant BT, which acquired the mobile operator last year in a £12.5bn deal.
Proceeds of the fine will be passed on to the Treasury.
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