Technology

Ofcom fines O2 for overcharging customers

The regulator said an issue with the mobile operator's billing system led to inaccurate bills.

Mobile provider O2 has been fined £10.5 million by Ofcom for failing to provide customers with accurate bills.

The regulator said an investigation found issues with the way O2 was billing customers who were leaving the provider.

According to Ofcom, between at least 2011 and 2019, an error in the way O2’s systems calculated the final bills for pay monthly mobile customers meant many people were billed for some charges twice.

More than 250,000 customers were billed incorrectly as a result during that time, amounting to £40.7 million – with around 140,000 customers actually paying the extra charges, paying a total of £2.4 million.

O2 has refunded the customers affected in full, plus an additional 4%, and committed to making a charitable donation for the equivalent amount of money in the case of any customer it has been unable to reach.

The company has also changed its billing processes to prevent the issue arising again, Ofcom said.

Any customers who have evidence they were affected by the issue but have not yet been refunded are advised to contact O2 directly.

Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s enforcement director, said: “Mobile customers trust their provider to bill them correctly and fix any errors as quickly as possible.

“But these billing issues continued for a number of years without sufficient action from O2, and thousands of customers were overcharged as a result.

“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.

“O2 has refunded the customers who were affected, and we are satisfied the company has taken action to prevent this happening again.”

A spokesperson for O2 said: “As the operator proactively driving over £168 million value back to our customers in the last year alone, we are disappointed by this technical error and sincerely apologise to customers impacted.

“As Ofcom have stated today, the vast majority of funds reported were not overpaid. Only 6% – £2.4 million – relates to money that was overpaid by customers.

“We identified the issue ourselves and notified our industry billing auditor. We have also taken proactive steps to refund all impacted customers for the extra charges they paid, plus an additional 4%.”

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Technology