Telecoms provider continued charging for landline and broadband services, totalling more than £500,000
Ofcom has fined telecoms provider Plusnet £880,000 for continuing to bill more than 1,000 former customers.
The penalty is a result of an investigation, which found the BT-owned company broke what Ofcom called “a fundamental billing rule” by continuing to charge the subscribers for landline and broadband, after they had cancelled their service.
As a result, 1,025 customers were overcharged by more than £500,000 in total, with the infringement taking place from May 26, 2011 to September 3, 2015.
Plusnet discovered the error whilst undertaking a routine asset reconciliation exercise of its customer base and identified one as having a chargeable account but with no active telephone or broadband service.
Ofcom said the company made repeated attempts to refund all affected ex-customers by letter and phone. It has refunded 356 customers a total of £212,140, which included interest at a rate of four per cent for each customer.
Plusnet has donated the remaining funds to a dozen local charities, in lieu of payments owed to customers whom it couldn’t contact. It has also clear to Ofcom the steps it has taken to prevent similar billing errors in the future.
The fine incorporates a 20 per cent reduction to reflect Plusnet’s willingness to enter into a formal settlement and as part of this, it has admitted and taken full responsibility for the breach of the telecoms regulator’s billing rule.
Facing the consequences
Ofcom consumer group director Lindsey Fussell said: “There can be no margin for error, and no excuses, when it comes to billing customers correctly.
“This fine should serve as a reminder to telecoms companies that they must adhere to Ofcom’s billing rules at all times, or face the consequences.”