back to article O2 UK overcharged exiting customers by £40.7m over 7+ years: Ofcom slams senior managers, fines it £10.5m

Britain's comms regulator has dished out a £10.5m fine to O2 UK, after it found the mobile operator overcharged exiting pay monthly customers by a whopping £40.7m between 2011 and 2019. The company didn't pot all of the £40.7m, as some of the customers it charged were already in arrears, and others simply looked at the …

  1. adam 40 Silver badge
    Devil

    What about credit records?

    It should be made to correct the credit records of all the customers who didn't pay and were disconnected, too.

    Try getting it done yourself - it's pretty much impossible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about credit records?

      It's crazy how few customers actually get reimbursed.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What about credit records?

        With the push to do everything paperless there's less incentive - and quite possibly no mechanism - for customers to notify changes of address to suppliers. If the only contact detail for a customer is the mobile number then unless that's ported over to the new network the old supplier has no way to reach them. And that's apart from any impacts of successive DPAs on retaining records or, as the article mentions, the likelihood of any attempt at communication being ignored as spam.

        In fact, it's surprising how many do get reimbursed.

      2. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: What about credit records?

        Not really. The whole problem here was overcharging people who were no longer actually customers, and who they're now trying to contact as much as 10 years after they left. Anyone who has moved house in that time is likely to be impossible to find, at least without some seriously questionable digging through personal information. If anything, I'd say the exact opposite is true - it's crazy how many customers actually did get reminbursed. The EE case apparently managed 63%, and while that only went back 6 years, I'm still amazed it was anywhere near that much.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: What about credit records?

          The have bank account details. You don't need an address to pay money into a bank account. That presumably is how they managed to refund that number of people.

          1. hoola Silver badge

            Re: What about credit records?

            If the bank details are current and valid then they will be able to refund. If customers have moved banks then there is pretty much nothing that can be done.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: What about credit records?

      now there's a legal decision to point to, it's rather compelling in small claims, etc

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They are all as bad as each other

    They are all as bad as each other.

    I've ported out (and back into) Three a couple of times, as they try to fuck over existing customers after the minimum contract term ends and unjustifiably push them onto much more expensive tariffs, with no way to switch to the normal tariffs on sale to new customers (which are comparable with, or often cheaper than, the existing contract). It's much easier to port out to a 30-day SIM-only account with a different network, and then later port back in as a new customer than have to waste time fighting with the call centre over this ("Never send a human to do a machine's job."). It's highly frustrating, because if Three didn't dick around with existing customers, I'd generally be perfectly happy to stay with them. The usual big company problem of completely failing to recognise loyalty.

    This results in them having to refund some of the last month's payment after the port-out date, but rather than just refund it automatically via the direct debit mechanism, they send a paper letter asking the (ex-)customer to call them to arrange the refund (with no option to do it online via their absymal webshite customer account management area).

    I'm sure this is deliberate, as not only is there a risk that someone might have moved (often a reason for porting, if the network is not available at the new address), but the hassle of trying to call the call centre and wait in an interminable queue means that I'm sure that few people deem it worthwhile for a couple of quid. If they really can't refund via the direct debit mechanism (which I very much doubt), they should at least notify customers via the mobile number and/or email address that they have for them, as well as a letter, and allow the refund request to be processed via the website.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They are all as bad as each other

      I gave up on their call centre long ago, but I've never had any problem moving between tariffs using the three website.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They are all as bad as each other

        (First AC here.)

        Maybe they have updated the website since I last needed to change contract, but previously the Three website only seemed to let you change to tariffs of the same vintage as your current contract, rather than the newer ones listed in the main sales part of the website, which were usually either slightly cheaper or offered more for the same money.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: They are all as bad as each other

      They are all as bad as each other.

      Telefonica has always had bad accounting ( without exception always in their favour) and little to no accountability.

      Vodaphone is the same, you get sudden added charges that have no apparent explanation and if you go into a Vodaphone shop (at least here in Spain) the staff will tell you something along the lines of 'We can't access that information as we are not Vodaphone only a franchise, call the help line'.

      The help line if it ever answers will thenbtry to sell you a new more expensive contract.

      I now use Yoigo, who doe to their good pricing, simple contracts and excellent service are growing rapidly, if they become as big as the others, I wonder if the service will retain its current levels?

    3. Alumoi Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: They are all as bad as each other

      The usual big company problem of completely failing to recognise loyalty.

      Loyalty means paying your bill every time the company decides and keeping mum abount what goes on.

      Complaining or, even worse, leaving the company is not a sign of loyalty.

      (where's the sarcasm tag when you need one?)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They are all as bad as each other

      I was with O2 paying £10 a month, very low usage. Went to giffgaff as they were doing £5 a month. O2 called me trying to keep me as a customer. She mentioned that O2 also do a £5 a month tariff that wasn't advertised. "And at what point after paying £10 a month for over a year were you going to tell me this?"

  3. Dr Fidget

    O2 Engineers

    Since early January I've had b*gger all phone signal at home and all I see from O2 is a "Looks like a nearby phone mast isn’t working as it should, sorry. Our engineers are likely to be on the case already, and your service might come and go until we fix it." message.

    I assume that O2 engineers wear a tutu, have little wings and a twinkly wand - or is that the fairies at the bottom of my garden?

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Coat

      Boot Note

      A lady looks out of her kitchen window at a tiny man, in a green jacket and tights wearing a pointy green hat.

      He is sitting on her garden wall with his head between his legs.

      “Are you a goblin?” she asks.

      “No, I’ve just got a headache.”

      Mine’s the one with the pot of gold in the pocket.

    2. Cynical user

      Re: O2 Engineers

      Not all radio site faults require engineers physically onsite. Not by a country mile.

      Obvious example - software issues which may be resolved by remote reinstall.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Astonishingly OFCOM is still a government regulator

    Great job. Finger really on the pulse. /S

    And now they're making O2's current customers pay the penalty for being overcharged. You couldn't make it up.

    :(

  5. Imp2

    Why aren't the directors held personally responsible. They knew about it, it I took a phone from any of these companies I would be prosecuted, they effectively stole millions. A bit of jail time for directors would soon stop this behaviour.

  6. PeterM42
    Facepalm

    Why have a contract?

    When you can have PAYG with a monthly renewable/monthly variable Goodybag with GiffGaff or similar?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why have a contract?

      "a monthly renewable/monthly variable Goodybag" is a contract!

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