Mobile network O2 has refunded 140,000 customers who were incorrectly billed over nearly a decade and also paid a £10.5 million fine for the failings.
An investigation by telecoms regulator Ofcom revealed that between 2011 and 2019 an error in the way O2's systems calculated final bills meant customers were billed some fees twice. In total, more than 250,000 customers were billed £40.7 million in incorrect charges.
Many of the customers being disconnected were already in arrears with O2 so did not actually pay the incorrect charges. But 140,000 customers did pay £2.4 million of fees they shouldn’t have.
Gaucho Rasmussen, enforcement director at Ofcom, said: “Mobile customers trust their provider to bill them correctly and fix 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.”
The regulator initially fined O2 £15 million for the failings, later reduced to £10.5 million after the network cooperated with the investigation.
“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,” Rasmussen said.
O2, the UK’s largest mobile operator, has also refunded the 140,000 customers who overpaid, plus 4% interest, including many who had closed their accounts or switched provider. When it wasn’t able to track down the customers, it made a donation to charity equivalent to the overcharged amount.
Customers who have evidence they were impacted by the billing errors and haven't been contacted by O2 can call the network on 0344 809 0202 or use the live chat on O2's website.
O2 apologised for the errors and said it had since overhauled its billings systems to prevent similar problems in the future.
A spokesperson for the network said: “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.
“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.”
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