Mobile broadband provider EE has been hit with a £1 million fine by Ofcom, after the regulator ruled it had breached regulations on handling customer complaints.
Current rules state that all providers are required to be members of an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.
An ADR aims to supplement conventional complaints procedures and is only used when a customer issue has gone unresolved for eight weeks.
However, an investigation by Ofcom, which began in July 2011, found EE had not provided customers with satisfactory information about their right to go through an ADR.
The regulator said EE had failed to send out written notifications to affected customers and had even failed to mention they could access ADR by requesting a 'deadlock letter’.
Additionally, Ofcom found many customers who had requested a "deadlock letter" never received one.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer and Content Group Director, said: “It’s vital that customers can access all the information they need when they’re pursuing a complaint. Ofcom imposes strict rules on how providers must handle complaints and treats any breach of these rules very seriously."
EE responded by stressing the fine was in relation to historic conduct and that the company had since improved its procedures for handling complaints from customers.
A spokesperson said: "While this in no way excuses it, it is important to note that we identified issues in our complaints handling and began our programme to tackle these problems head-on in 2013, before Ofcom started their investigation.
"We have made considerable improvements since then. Ofcom's current figures highlight that complaints into Ofcom about EE have fallen by 50% in the past year."
Richard Neudegg, Regulation Expert at uSwitch.com, said the fine showed how seriously Ofcom was taking the issue, but added that more needs to be done to simplify the complaints process.
“Part of the problem is the telecoms market’s complaints procedure is more confusing than other sectors. There isn’t one single Ombudsman; there are two that companies may direct customers to. So it’s extremely important information on how to access these is completely clear," he said.