Ofcom has fined O2 £10.5 million for overcharging customers over an eight-year period due to an issue with its billing system.
An investigation by the regulator discovered that some customers leaving the operator were charged twice for items on their final bill. O2 initially identified errors with its processes back in 2011 but the problems continued until 2019.
Ofcom’s found that more than 250,000 customers were affected, amounting to £40.7 million. Around 140,000 customers paid charges worth £2.5 million.
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As a result of these rule breaches, O2 has been fined £10.5 million. O2 has also refunded any customer that paid additional charges and has donated an equivalent sum to charity for anyone that couldn’t be reached. The company has also changed its billing system to ensure that there is no repeat.
“Mobile customers trust their provider to bill them correctly and fix any errors as quickly as possible,” said Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s Enforcement Director. “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.”
O2 has accepted the findings of Ofcom’s probe adding: “As the operator proactively driving over £168m 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% - £2.4m - 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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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.