O2 fined £10m for overcharging customers

Mobile network O2 has been fined £10.5m by telecoms regulator Ofcom for overcharging its customers.

For eight years, some customers who were leaving the network were double-charged some fees on their final bills, Ofcom said.

The error affected more than 140,000 pay-monthly subscribers between 2011 and 2019, totalling £2.4m.

O2 said it had refunded many of the customers, adding an extra 4% to the sum involved.

But it has been unable to contact some of its former subscribers. Those refunds will be donated to charity.

Despite the refunds, Ofcom decided that O2 had broken important rules around providing customers with accurate bills and that it deserved a fine.

O2 had overcharged 250,000 people, totalling £40.7m – but only 140,000 people actually ended up paying the wrong amount.

The others were mainly those who were in arrears or left their contracts early, O2 said – and had much larger final bills as a result, and therefore larger erroneous charges. But they were not left out-of-pocket by the error, O2 said, as the amount was never paid.

Ofcom said that O2 knew about the “issues with its billing processes” in 2011, but failed to fix them. It kept overcharging customers for a further eight years.

O2 said: “We are disappointed by this technical error and sincerely apologise to customers impacted.

“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.”

Ofcom said O2 had changed its billing process so the problem would not happen again.

“This 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,” said the regulator’s enforcement chief, Gaucho Rasmussen.