EE slapped with £1m fine over poor handling of customer complaints

3 Jul 2015

EE has been fined £1m by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom for failing to satisfactorily handle customer complaints.

In what should be a lesson to telecoms operators everywhere, Everything Everywhere (EE) has been slapped with a £1m fine by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom for failing to handle customer complaints fairly.

EE, which is being acquired by BT for £12.5bn, did not provide certain customers with accurate or adequate information about their right to take their complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme.

EE has more than 27m customers across the UK and Northern Ireland.

According to Ofcom, it failed to send out written notifications to customers who should have referenced their right to take their complaint to ADR eight weeks after they first raised their complaint.

Dead letter day for EE

EE also failed to state in its Customer Complaints Code that, where relevant, customers could access its ADR scheme by requesting a ‘deadlock letter’.

A number of customers who had requested a ‘deadlock letter’ during this time were not sent them as required, and in some cases customers were told by EE that letters of this type were not issued.

EE also sent paper bills to Orange customers and written notifications to Orange, 4GEE and T-Mobile customers that did not reference that they can use its ADR scheme for free.

As a result of Ofcom’s investigation, EE has amended its Customer Complaints Code to include a correct reference of its obligation to issue a ‘deadlock letter’.

EE has also amended the information provided on its paper bills and in its written notifications to make sure customers are informed that they may use ADR at no cost to themselves.

Ofcom has also decided to impose a financial penalty of £1m on EE as a result of its contravention.

“It’s vital that customers can access all the information they need when they’re pursuing a complaint,” Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer and content group director, said.

“Ofcom imposes strict rules on how providers must handle complaints and treats any breach of these rules very seriously.

“The fine imposed against EE takes account of the serious failings that occurred in the company’s complaints handling, and the extended period over which these took place,” Pollack added.

EE image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years