UK Reg Thinks Plusnet Overcharged for Four Years

As reported last year, UK regulator Ofcom is flexing its consumer protection muscles and investigating Plusnet for suspected overcharging. A recent official update shows the investigation is drawing to a close and Ofcom thinks Plusnet really did overcharge customers between 26th May 2011 and 3rd September 2015.

Per the announcement, Ofcom has found evidence that bills kept being issued after services were terminated:

Specifically, Ofcom has reasonable grounds to believe that Plusnet contravened GC 11.1 by rendering bills to end-users in respect of broadband and telephony services for amounts that did not represent and exceeded the true extent of the service actually provided to them. Plusnet had continued to bill certain end-users for broadband and telephony service after their service had been cancelled.

It is now up to Plusnet to plead their case:

Plusnet now has an opportunity to make representations to Ofcom on the matters contained in the Notification before Ofcom makes a final decision…

Lots of bad press headlines seem to have stung the normally apathetic UK regulator into taking ‘action’ to protect customers who have already suffered inaccurate bills for years. This has led to massive fines for Vodafone and EE.

Given that this series of investigations and fines all relate to historic problems with charging, you might think this proves there is something wrong with the regulatory accuracy audits imposed on telcos since the start of the century. But if you work for Ofcom you reach the opposite conclusion. They believe that consumer protection is best served by doing more of the same.

If you are an ordinary British phone customer you should keep a close eye on your bills… unless you are happy to wait the five or six years it takes this regulator to discover the mistakes for you. And that assumes they will eventually find all the mistakes, which is a faulty assumption if ever there was.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is a recognized expert on communications risk and assurance. He was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and others.   Eric was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He was a founding member of Qatar's National Committee for Internet Safety and the first leader of the TM Forum's Enterprise Risk Management team. Eric currently sits on the committee of the Risk & Assurance Group, and is an editorial advisor to Black Swan. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.   Commsrisk is edited by Eric. Look here for more about Eric's history as editor.