O2 has been issued a huge £10.5 million fine from Ofcom, after it was found that the network had overcharged customers over an eight-year period.
Over 140,000 of O2’s pay-monthly customers were affected by this error between 2011 and 2019, with the total overpayments coming to £2.4 million.
To make amends, O2 reached out to its former customers who were overcharged and refunded them their overpayments, with 4% extra on top as compensation.
However, O2 has not been able to reach all of its former customers who overpaid. Those refunds are set to be donated to charity.
While 140,000 customers paid more than they should have, 110,000 more customers also noticed that they had received incorrect bills. However, as they didn’t pay the extra sum, they won’t receive a refund.
Ofcom deemed the overpayment error to be a “a serious breach of rules” and that, while O2 picked up on the mistake, the network didn’t respond with “sufficient action”. As a result, O2 overcharged thousands of its pay monthly customers.
A spokesperson for O2 said: “As the operator proactively driving over £168m value back to our customers in the last year alone, we are disappointed by this technical error and sincerely apologise to customers impacted.”
“As Ofcom have stated today, the vast majority of funds reported were not overpaid. Only 6% - £2.4m - relates to money that was overpaid by customers.”
“We identified the issue ourselves and notified our industry billing auditor. We have also taken proactive steps to refund all impacted customers for the extra charges they paid, plus an additional 4%.”
It’s always important to check your bills and outgoings to make sure you’re not paying for something that you shouldn't be.
Ernest Doku, mobiles expert here at Uswitch.com, said: “For more than eight years, a problem with O2’s billing system led to thousands of pay monthly customers being double-charged for certain items in their final bill.
“Being accurately billed is such a fundamental part of the agreement between customer and provider, so it’s very disappointing that a systemic problem should have been allowed to go on so long.”
“Many customers spotted the error and rightly refused to pay. But not all did, and Ofcom estimates 140,000 people overpaid by a total of £2.4m.”
“All of those who were not automatically refunded should now have received their money back from O2, as well as an additional 4% in compensation.”
“The scale of the fine imposed on O2 shows how seriously Ofcom takes such matters, and the regulator’s decisive action sends a clear message to other mobile networks that errors with something as important as billing will not be tolerated.”
All customers due a refund will already have been contacted by O2.