Ofcom fines EE £2.7 million for overcharging customers

After a lengthy investigation, regulator Ofcom has fined EE to the tune of £2,700,000 for overcharging some of its mobile customers. Ofcom says that at least 32,145 users were overcharged altogether.

A mistake on EE's part meant that for a while, users who called 150 - the network's customer services number - while roaming in the EU got charged as though they were calling the USA. So instead of 19p per minute, they were charged £1.20 per minute.

With that affecting over 32,000 people, around £245,700 was charged overall - about £7.70 per person.

But that's not all, Ofcom says. In a statement, the regulator said: "In addition, while it did not set out to make money from its billing mistake, EE had decided not to reimburse the majority of affected customers until Ofcom intervened. EE wrongly decided it couldn't identify the people it overcharged and was proposing to give their money to charity, which would have left them out of pocket."

EE later made it free to call or text 150 from within the EU, but another mistake meant that EU roamers still got charged for it. That occurred between 18 November 2015 and 11 January 2016. In this case, though, the network was quick to act - anyone who was overcharged got reimbursed.

The majority of customers from the first incident have been reimbursed now too, but at least 6,905 still haven't been identified - and they're owed £60,000 (a little under £9 each).

In lieu of paying them back, EE has made a £62,000 charity donation, but Ofcom says it nonetheless needs to "make further attempts to trace and refund every customer who was overcharged".

EE has taken full responsibility for the blunder, and agreed to enter a formal settlement with Ofcom - meaning that £2.7 million fine is actually 10% lower than it could have been.

Consumer group Which? says it shouldn't have happened in the first place, however. In a statement, campaign and communications director Vickie Sheriff said: "Customers shouldn't have to wait for the regulator to step in to get an apology and their money back."

If you're an EE customer who called 150 from the EU in the last couple of years, it could be worth digging up your old phone bills to see if you were overcharged.

Source: Ofcom

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