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EE fined £1 million over customer complaints

The country’s largest carrier, EE, has been fined £1 million by Ofcom for not adhering to rules relating to customer complaint handling.

Only days after being named the ‘most complained about mobile network’ by Ofcom, EE has been hit with a £1 million fine for breaching rules over the handling of customer complaints.

Communications watchdog Ofcom stated that between July 22nd 2011 and April 8th 2014, EE failed to notify customers of their right to bring complaints before an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme. ADR schemes allow disgruntled customers to seek impartial adjudication for ongoing complaints, if they feel their issues aren’t being dealt with satisfactorily.

Ofcom also noted that EE failed to state in its Customer Complaints Code that customers were able to access its ADR scheme by requesting a “deadlock letter”. A number of customers who actually requested the letters – which confirm that neither party agrees on key issues – apparently never received them at all. Worse still, come customers were flat-out told that EE doesn’t issue the letters.

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. 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.”

Responding to the fine, EE stated that it related to issues which occurred in the past, which have now been noted and rectified. A spokesperson for the carrier, which could soon be taken over by BT, 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.”

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