UK communications regulator Ofcom has fined telecoms company TalkTalk and its subsidiary Tiscali UK £3m following a year long investigation over incorrectly billing customers.
The investigation was launched in July 2010 following complaints from more than 1000 customers and uncovered 65,000 cases of incorrect billing. Both companies were found to have billed customers for services that they did not receive, in particular those who had cancelled their accounts.
The company blames these errors on the 2009 merger between Talk Talk and Tiscali UK and a failure of its record systems.
Since an initial warning from Ofcom, they have repaid customers to the tune of £2.5m and created a new customer records management system. In a statement chief executive of TalkTalk Group PLC, Dido Harding said:
“We are pleased that Ofcom has recognised the significant steps we’ve taken to solve this problem and has acknowledged that the issues surrounding the integration of the Tiscali business in 2010 are behind us. We are of course disappointed at the scale of the fine and feel it is a disproportionate penalty.”
Ofcom issued the £3m fine due to the “seriousness of their breach”. It is hoped that this will act as a deterrent to the company and others to ensure that they comply with the rules. In the ruling released by Ofcom they claim that the fine could have been more severe.
“Ofcom is issuing TalkTalk and Tiscali UK with a lower penalty than they might otherwise have been given, had they not taken steps towards complying with the rules, and taken action to remedy the harm they caused to consumers.”
TalkTalk and Tiscali UK, now both operating as TalkTalk, are required to pay the fine to HM Treasury within 30 days.
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