Plusnet fined £880,000 for wrongly billing customers

Wednesday, 22 March, 2017

Industry regulator Ofcom has slapped broadband provider Plusnet with an £880,000 fine for overcharging its former customers.

Plusnet, which is owned by BT, continued to bill people who had cancelled their landline or broadband packages.

Speaking to BroadbandDeals.co.uk, a spokesperson for the Yorkshire firm said the problem was down to “an isolated historic issue”.

They said: “We are very sorry and would like to apologise to the customers affected.

“We reported this ourselves to Ofcom, and made every effort to contact these customers to arrange a full refund before the investigation started. We would also like to reassure all customers this was an isolated historic issue and we have implemented a number of new robust measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Ofcom opened its investigation in May 2016 and announced the ruling on 22 March 2017.

In this case the Yorkshire-based broadband firm broke a fundamental billing rule which says once a home phone or broadband deal is cancelled, providers must recognise that a line is ‘ceased’.

Plusnet, whose motto is: “We’ll do you proud”, failed to make sure this happened, and overcharged around 1,000 customers over the course of four years between 26 May 2011 and 3 September 2015.

EE were the last operator to fall foul of Ofcom’s billing rules.

At the start of the month it was hit with a £2.7m fine for “extraordinary failures” to protect 40,000 customers from being wrongly billed for services they didn’t use.

More: EE £2.7m fine: ‘Fundamental mistakes’ see 40,000 customers overcharged

The industry regulator Ofcom found in this latest investigation that 1,025 Plusnet accounts remained live after cancellation and customers were billed for more than half a million pounds they didn’t owe.

Plusnet agreed to a formal settlement with Ofcom, cutting the cost of the industry fine by 20 per cent.

The provider has refunded 356 customers a total of £212,140, including paying 4 per cent interest on the money owed.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: “There can be no margin for error, and no excuses, when it comes to billing customers correctly.”

“This fine should serve as a reminder to telecoms companies that they must adhere to Ofcom’s billing rules at all times, or face the consequences.”

Tom Rodgers author picture

By:

Tom is a tech journalist and former Editor at BroadbandDeals.co.uk.

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