BT faces fine for breaching Ofcom rules about charging for 118 calls
British Telecom (BT) has been fined £245,000 after it overcharged thousands of EE's mobile customers for making calls to 118 directory enquiries services.
Ofcom, the regulator, introduced a price cap on 118 phone numbers in April 2019 to protect vulnerable customers and ensure fairer prices.
Between April and June 2019 almost 6,000 EE customers were overcharged a total of around £42,000 for making calls to 118 numbers.
While BT, which owns EE, was able to correct most bills before EE customers paid them, £10,000 of the total amount was still overcharged.
All customers have since been refunded.
Ofcom says: "BT’s failure to implement the 118 price cap was a serious breach of our rules, particularly considering the potentially vulnerable people that use directory enquiry services
"So, we have imposed a fine of £245,000 on BT.
"The fine includes a 30% discount that reflects BT’s admission of its failings by agreeing to settle the case.
"The money raised from the fine will be passed on to HM Treasury. The fine must be paid to Ofcom within 20 working days."
Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, says: “EE customers will be concerned to hear that BT failed to implement Ofcom’s price cap on 118 phone numbers, resulting in thousands being overcharged for calls.
“Unfortunately the error is most likely to have affected older and vulnerable people, who are more inclined to use 118 numbers.
“BT, which owns EE, did realise its mistake and corrected most bills before they were paid by EE customers - but not before customers had to pay out £10,000 unnecessarily.
“All customers should have been refunded now, but if you think you have been affected by a similar mistake, contact your mobile company in the first instance.
“If you are unhappy with their response, you can take your complaint further by getting in touch with the appropriate ombudsman for your mobile provider.”