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TalkTalk fined £3m by Ofcom over incorrect billing
Thursday 18 August 2011 11:09:02 by John Hunt

Broadband provider TalkTalk has today been fined £3 million after the company incorrectly billed tens of thousands of consumers who were not receiving service. This follows an investigation by Ofcom into both TalkTalk and Tiscali in July 2010 after Ofcom received over 1,000 complaints about the companies, leading Ofcom to rule that the companies were in breach of General Condition (GC) 11.1 which relates to the billing of telecom services. Ofcom can fine up to 10% of a companies turnover, but in this instance has opted for a lesser fine. TalkTalk purchased Tiscali UK in 2009 for £236 million, a sale price far below the £600m Tiscali were originally looking for.

TalkTalk have already paid back over £2.5m in refunds and good-will payments to customers following complaints over billing, and Ofcom did not fine the companies at the time as the company had taken steps to try and sort out their billing problems. Ofcom deemed that sufficient work had not been completed however, as over 3,000 customers were still billed incorrectly between the 2nd of December 2010 and 4th March 2011.

"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. The billing migration was completed last year and in the last 3 months Ofcom has received only 12 complaints on the issue. In addition, as announced in February, every customer impacted has been reimbursed and compensated with payments totaling over £2.5 million.

Last year I recognised that we needed to invest in our systems, processes and customer services ­ and we are making significant progress. We have seen a 40% year-on-year reduction in customer service calls; Ofcom receives three times fewer calls about TalkTalk than they did at the height of the Tiscali integration; and our 5 million customers are more loyal and more satisfied than they were 12 months ago.

We are of course disappointed at the scale of the fine and feel it is a disproportionate penalty; however we are striving to continually improve and invest in customer experience and are pleased at the clear progress we are starting to make."

Dido Harding, (CEO) TalkTalk Group PLC

TalkTalk may end up writing the fine down as part of the merger and integration costs as the company had to do considerable work to incorporate the Tiscali customers into the TalkTalk systems. Ofcom will continue to monitor the situation at TalkTalk although TalkTalk say that the billing issue in question is resolved.


Posted by mike41 over 5 years ago
"We are of course disappointed at the scale of the fine and feel it is a disproportionate penalty"

It should have been even more! Well done Ofcom, as one of the thousands of ex-TT victims I'm glad to see a reckoning at last. The frustration and lost time caused by TT is immeasurable.
Posted by c_j_ over 5 years ago
The costs will (as with fines for white-collar 'crime' in general) simply be passed on to the customers and the net effect will be minimal.

There are individuals responsible for this state of affairs at TT. They should be paying the fines. If the individuals to blame cannot be identified, then the directors responsible at the time in question should be paying the fines, after all they pay themselves very nicely when things go well, so when things go very badly, they should be just as accountable. Personally.
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
If this, as I think, is partly the legacy problem of the old notorious Pipex billing system fiasco, when it was owned by private equity then its the usual story that those who are hard-nosed enough will always get away with it, as they cower everyone in sight. The long-term players will pick up the consequences (and the bill)eventually. That's free enterprise for you, and little credit to Ofcom who are ten years late to the party.
Posted by Guest_Again over 5 years ago
This is not nearly enough - they should NOT get away with this nonsense.
Posted by Pete-W-Trotman over 5 years ago
I must be one of the very luck ones as when TT took over Tiscali I immediately changed over and have never had a problem with my billing and my speed has always been at or over the amount I pay for.
Well done TalkTalk
Posted by billyarrow over 5 years ago
TalkTalk deserve the fine - they said "Agree to change and we'll handle everything else". They were still taking money off me for the disconnected Tiscali service several months after changing me, and to date I've had NO REFUND! When I rang TalkTalk they said it was nothing to do with them and referred me to Tiscali. Having said this, I am happy with the current TalkTalk speed and service, if only they would refund me what they owe.
Posted by Mardon5 over 5 years ago
I have had a problem with Talk Talk. Last October I was billed £100 for a home visit for a repair my phone when no such visit was made. My phone was eventually repaired ater almost a week without the need for a home visit but after sending many letters and many phone calls they still insisted that a home visit was made, and refused to credit my account. I terminated my broadband/phone connection in February this year and I am now satisfied with my Plusnet connection. I did find Ofcom's attitude rather negative when I contacted them about my problem. I agree with Guest the fine shoul
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