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Ofcom Fines Plusnet £880,000 For Charging Old Broadband Customers

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Left Plusnet between May 2013 and September 2015? Check your bills, you may be eligible for a refund

Plusnet has been fined £880,000 by Ofcom for continuing to bill customers for broadband and landline services after they had cancelled their contracts.

The BT-owned provider overcharged 1,025 customers more than £500,000 between May 2011 and September 2015 because its billing system had not been updated properly.

Ofcom said Plusnet had made “repeated attempts” to refund customers by letter and phone and had so far returned £212,140 to 356 of them, applying 4 percent interest. The remaining funds have been donated to a dozen local charities.

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Plusnet overcharging

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

Plusnet’s penalty includes a 20 percent reduction applied because of its willingness to enter a settlement and save public money that would have been used in a legal battle. It has assured Ofcom that steps have been taken to ensure there will be no repeat.

“We are very sorry and would like to apologise to the 1025 customers affected,” a spokesperson told Silicon. “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.

“No existing customers have been impacted. We made every effort to contact the affected customers multiple times-including writing, calling and emailing, but if any former customers believe they are entitled to a refund they can call us on 0845 1400 082 where a member of our team will check, and honour, any applicable refund.”

Vodafone and EE have both felt Ofcom’s wrath in recent months, with both fined millions of pounds for overcharging, a sign that the regulator takes such matters seriously.

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