3rd July 2015
The telecoms regulator has fined mobile phone operator EE £1 million for complaints handling failures.
Ofcom said from 2011 to 2014, the firm failed to provide customers with full information telling them of their right to take a complaint to an independent body. Under the telecoms rules, EE was supposed to inform customers of this right by letter but did not.
Customers who are unhappy with the outcome of EE complaints have two months to take their complaint to an independent body after the original complaint is made.
Between July 2011 and April 2014, many customers had requested a ‘deadlock’ letter so that they could refer their case to the independent body but EE failed to provide them. EE is also failed to notify some customers on their paper bills that complaints could be referred on free of charge.
‘It’s vital that customers can access all the information they need when they’re pursuing a complaint,’ said Claudio Pollack.
‘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 failing that occurred in the company’s complaints handling, and the extended period over which these took place.’
EE said the complaints were historic and that it had been working on a programme to improve complaints handling.
Richard Neudegg, regulation expert at uSwitch, said: ‘A fine of this size shows how seriously Ofcom is taking failure to follow the rules on complaints – and EE was getting it wrong for almost three year.
‘If telecoms companies don’t resolve consumers’ issues internally, people have a right to contact one of two free-to-use resolution schemes to get things sorted.
‘Access to an ombudsman is of huge importance. It gives people who feel they’ve been let down by a service provider another route to resolution. 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 is extremely important information on how to access these is completely clear.’