The telecoms regulator has opened an investigation into mobile operator O2 and its compliance with their billing rules (General Condition 3.2), which requires providers to ensure that their charges are accurate and represent the services received by the customer. Apparently they’ve suffered an “Extraordinary Performance Failure.”
The rules are broadly intended to ensure that communications providers have systems and processes in place which are fit for purpose, deliver accurate bills to consumers and ensure that consumers are not overcharged for services. This also requires providers to obtain approval of their metering and billing systems from third-party assessors, known as Approval Bodies.
In this case it appears as if the Approval Body working for O2 has notified the regulator of a “Category 1 Extraordinary Performance Failure” (EPF) at the mobile operator.
That notification also suggests that from at least 1 January 2012 – 7 March 2019, O2 took duplicate final direct debit payments from customers who terminated their contracts on a Saturday or Sunday and had an outstanding periodic bill to pay.
The notification explains that the termination bill did not take into account other payments made against the outstanding bill when calculating the final payment. This means that there is an issue as to whether the termination bill included the whole value of the outstanding periodic bill and so whether final payment was in fact taken twice.
In addition, O2 did not classify this incident as EPF, and did not follow all the requirements in the timeframes set out in the Direction.
Investigations like this can be quite complicated due to all the admin involved and as such Ofcom aim to complete their evidence gathering phase by the end of December 2019, which means that we probably won’t learn of their provisional findings until later in 2020.