Mobile provider O2 has been fined £10.5 million by Ofcom for overcharging customers, after failing to provide accurate bills.
The telecommunications regulator said an investigation found issues with the way the mobile company was billing customers who were leaving the provider.
More than 250,000 customers billed incorrectly
Ofcom’s investigation found that between 2011 and 2019 more than 250,000 customers were billed incorrectly amounting to £40.7 million.
The regulator also revealed that around 140,000 customers actually paid the extra charge, paying a total of £2.4 million.
The error was found to be in the way O2’s system calculated the final bills for pay monthly mobile customers, meaning people were billed for some monthly charges twice.
Affected customers have been refunded by O2 in full, plus an additional 4 per cent on top. The company has also made a commitment to make a charitable donation for the equivalent amount of money in the case of any customer it has been unable to reach.
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 is 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.”
What if I haven’t been contacted?
Ofcom has said the mobile company has changed the way its billing works to prevent the issue happening again.
Any customers who have evidence they were affected by the issue but have not yet been refunded are advised to contact O2 directly.
A spokesperson for O2 added: “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 six per cent – £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 four per cent.”