Ofcom, the UK comms regulator, has issued a GBP245,000 (USD307,000) penalty to BT after customers using its EE mobile network were overcharged for directory enquiries (DQ) calls. The regulator imposed a price cap on DQ services in April 2019, but it was only in June 2019 that the relevant tariff was updated for EE customers. As a consequence, almost 6,000 EE customers were overcharged by about GBP42,000 (USD53,000) in total. The telco did manage to correct most EE bills before they were paid, but still collected approximately GBP10,000 (USD13,000) more than it should. All overcharges were later refunded.
The regulator’s penalty includes a 30 percent discount because BT admitted it was at fault and agreed to settle the case. You can read more about Ofcom’s decision here.
It would be tedious to list all the occasions when UK telcos have been punished for overcharging customers during the last four years. Every UK telco is required to submit to billing accuracy audits by an Ofcom-approved auditor, but this has not stopped customers from being overcharged again and again and again and again and again and again.
The UK regulator had formed a habit of insisting they would not tolerate charging mistakes following every fine issued for overcharging. They could only make that claim a few times before it started sounding ridiculous, which is presumably why none of their goons offered the press a similar quote about this cock-up.
The timing of this press release is also suspicious. BT’s mistakes occurred and were identified almost a year ago; it seems like this announcement was scheduled for a day when Ofcom’s public relations team must have known most of the British media would be focused on other news.