Mobile phone provider EE has been hit with a £2.7 million fine for overcharging almost 40,000 customers.
The network has been reprimanded after charging customers a combined £250,000 more than they should have paid for making certain phone calls. Regulator Ofcom says the network made “fundamental billing mistakes”.
EE customers who called customer services while roaming in Europe were incorrectly billed as if they had called the United States. These users were charged £1.20 per minute rather than the correct 19p per minute. This saw 32,145 customers overcharged by a total of £245,700.
A second mistake saw 7,674 customers billed for calling customer services within Europe, despite the service being free from 18 November 2015. It billed some customers for calls until 11 January 2016 and overcharged a total of £2,203.33.
The network, which is now owned by BT, also failed to reimburse the majority of affected customers until the regulator intervened. Ofcom says EE wrongly decided it couldn’t identify the people who had been overcharged and wanted to give their money to charity instead, something that would have left customers out of pocket.
However, EE says it has now contacted affected customers to offer a refund. An EE spokesperson says: “We have put measures in place to prevent this from happening again, and have contacted the majority of customers to apologise and provide a full refund. For those customers that we could not identify, we donated the remaining excess fees to charitable causes in line with Ofcom’s guidelines.”
The spokesperson adds: "We accept these findings and apologise unreservedly to those customers affected by these technical billing issues between 2014 and 2015.”
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom consumer group director, says: “EE didn’t take enough care to ensure that its customers were billed accurately. This ended up costing customers thousands of pounds, which is completely unacceptable.”
The £2.7 million fine will be passed on to HM Treasury.
EE is not the first mobile phone provider to be hit with a hefty fine in recent times. Ofcom issued Vodafone a £4.6 million fine in October 2016 due to billing issues.