EE may have the UK covered for 4G data, but the company hasn’t been doing the best job listening to its customers in the past, according to industry regulator Ofcom. As a result, EE has been fined £1 million.
Ofcom had been running a routine investigation into EE for the past three years, to find out how the company logs and deals with customer complaints. The regulator found that between July 22nd 2011 and April 8th 2014, EE did not provide adequate information to consumers about their right to take a complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme. A third party can be used to reach an impartial decision if no resolution is found after eight weeks.
“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.” – Ofcom
Furthermore, EE did not send letters out to customers who had requested access to its ADR scheme, also known as “deadlock letters”, within the necessary time limit and often failed to send out any at all. Customers were also incorrectly told that letters of this type were not issued and the company failed to send paper bills to customers that referenced the fact that they could use its ADR scheme for free.
“This fine relates to our historic performance regarding complaints handling, collected from 2011 to April 2014. While this is in no way excuses it, it is important to note that we identified issues in our complaints handling … Ofcom’s current figures highlight that complaints into Ofcom about EE have fallen by 50% in the past year alone” – EE
As a result of the investigation, EE has now amended its Customer Complains Code to include information about its obligation to issue a deadlock letter. The company will also inform customers of the fact on their paper bills and will send written notifications to complainants about free access to the ADR.
EE is not the only UK carrier to have been fined Ofcom. Last year, Three was found to have closed customer complaints earlier than it should have and was fined £250,000.
The UK carrier has 20 days to pay its fine. £1 million may only be a slap on the wrist in the grand scheme of things, but hopefully it will encourage EE to keep on top of its customer complaints.