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UK Fines O2 For Overcharging Departing Customers

 |  February 14, 2021

Ofcom has hit O2 with a £10.5 million (US$14.6 million) fine after it was found to have overcharged thousands of customers that were trying to leave the mobile phone company over the past decade, reported The Financial Times.

The telecom regulator found that O2 had miscalculated charges for departing customers, meaning that 140,000 people paid incorrect fees amounting to £2.4 (US$3.33 million) of over-payments between 2011 and 2019. The potential damage to consumers could have been much higher as an aggregate 250,000 customers were incorrectly billed by a total of £40.7 million (US$56.57 million). This figure included people who chose not to pay the sum demanded.  

“This a serious breach of our rules and this fine is a reminder that we will step in if we see companies failing to protect their customers,” said Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s enforcement director.

O2 stated that about half of the customers that were hit by the double charging were refunded automatically or when they complained. The rest were paid back in 2019 and 2020 after the Telefónica-owned mobile network identified the issue. 

The large fine will send a signal to the telecom industry that Ofcom is clamping down on continued poor customer service in the sector. It is more than double what Vodafone had to pay in 2016 after it was accused of “mis-selling, inaccurate billing and poor complaints handling procedures.”

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