Broadband and phone firm Plusnet, which is owned by BT, has been fined £880,000 by Ofcom after it was found to be billing more than a thousand ex-customers for services they’d ceased.
According to the telecoms regulator, the firm’s billing system repeatedly failed to update customers’ accounts to reflect when services had been cancelled, meaning that 1,025 households continued to receive bills for services they’d cancelled entirely or moved to other providers.
In total the affected customers were overcharged by more than £500,000.
Ofcom says the firm “broke a fundamental billing rule” in continuing to levy the charges.
It adds that Plusnet “has made repeated attempts” to contact and refund those affected and notes that 356 customers have received refunds plus interest. The remaining mis-billed money has been donated to local charities.
Lindsey Fussell, the regulator’s Consumer Group Director, said: “There can be no margin for error, and no excuses, when it comes to billing customers correctly.”
“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.”
The fine levied by Ofcom includes a 20% reduction “to reflect Plusnet’s willingness to enter into a formal settlement”.
A Plusnet spokesperson said: “We are very sorry and would like to apologise to the 1025 customers affected.
“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.”