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EE And Virgin Media Fined £13.3m For Leaving Customers 'Out Of Pocket'

EE And Virgin Media Fined £13.3m For Leaving Customers 'Out Of Pocket'

Ofcom said up to 15 million faced being overcharged a total of up to £13.5 million as a result of miscalculated early exit charges

Jake Massey

Jake Massey

EE and Virgin Media have been fined a total of £13.3m for overcharging customers who left broadband and phone contracts early.

Telecoms regulator, Ofcom, said 400,000 EE customers were over-billed, overpaying up to £4.3 million, while almost 82,000 Virgin Media customers were overcharged, totalling nearly £2.8m.

EE has been fined £6.3m by the regulator, while Virgin Media was fined £7m, plus an additional £25,000 for providing the regulator with incomplete information.

Ofcom said the behaviour of the companies deterred customers from switching providers, which is against the regulator's rules.

EE has apologised to its customers, however, Virgin said it would appeal the decision.

PA

Gaucho Rasmussen, director of investigations and enforcement at Ofcom, said: "EE and Virgin Media broke our rules by overcharging people who ended their contracts early. Those people were left out pocket and the charges amounted to millions of pounds."

Ofcom said that over the course of almost one year, Virgin Media imposed early-exit fees that were higher than customers agreed to when signing contracts

However, Tom Mockridge, chief executive of Virgin Media, said the 'fine is not justified' and the company would appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

He said: "This decision and fine is not justified, proportionate or reasonable. A small percentage of customers were charged an incorrect amount when they ended one or more of their services early and for that we are very sorry."

Virgin Media admitted they had overcharged 1.5% of their 5.5 million cable customers between September 2016 and August 2017, but had reimbursed or made charitable donations to compensate for 99.8% of the overcharging.

PA

EE's fine relates to a six year period wherein the company didn't fully set out the charges customers would have to pay for leaving their mobile contracts early.

Ofcom said up to 15 million faced being overcharged a total of up to £13.5 million as a result of miscalculated early exit charges. However, many of these miscalculated fees have since been waived, leaving £4.3 million in excess charges.

The regulator said £1.6 million worth of excess fees were yet to be reimbursed as EE do not have complete records covering this period. Customers who feel they may have been overcharged are advised to contact EE.

A spokesman for the company apologised to customers.

He said: "We accept Ofcom's findings and recognise that we have made a mistake. We apologise to customers with discounted tariffs who paid more than they should have when cancelling their contracts early.

"We've already refunded customers and changed the way we calculate early termination charges, and we will continue to focus on ensuring our policies are clear and fair for all customers.''

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: UK News, phone, Technology