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Plusnet fined £880,000 for billing ex-customers for phone and broadband

Wednesday, March 22nd 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Plusnet has been fined £880,000 for continuing to charge customers for broadband and phone services after they’d cancelled.

Around 1,000 ex-customers were overcharged a total of more than £500,000 between May 2011 and September 2015.

The fine follows an investigation by Ofcom, which found Plusnet had broken a “fundamental billing rule” designed to ensure customers are correctly charged for the services they receive.

When a customer cancels their broadband or phone service, the billing systems used by providers must recognise that the line is ‘ceased’.

In this case, an error meant that cancelled lines were still recognised as ‘live’ and 1,025 customers continued to be billed after they’d cancelled.

Plusnet said it has made attempts to refund everyone affected by letter and phone and has so far refunded 356 customers a total of £212,140 including interest at a rate 4%.

The BT-owned company has donated the remaining funds to charity.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’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.”

'Wake up call'

The £880,000 fine, which was reduced by 20% because of Plusnet’s willingness to enter into a formal settlement, must be paid to Ofcom within 20 days and will be passed on to the Treasury.

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.”

Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of money.co.uk, said: “This is a massive wake up call to check your bank statements for unwanted transactions and querying anything that seems out of place.”

But she added: “Don’t let mistakes like this damage your confidence in switching supplier.

“Issues tend to be few and far between and if you stay loyal you will pay loads more than you need to.”

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