Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Another round of scrutiny for O2 as Ofcom begins second probe following initial investigation

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Friday 13 December 19

The UK regulator has launched a follow-up investigation to examine whether O2 failed to suitably respond to its information requests in an ongoing enquiry

In July 2019, Ofcom announced it was beginning an investigation into an Extraordinary Performance Failure (EPF) of O2’s metering and billing system after allegations surfaced that the firm may have overcharged customers.    This information was brought to Ofcom&rsquo…

In July 2019, Ofcom announced it was beginning an investigation into an Extraordinary Performance Failure (EPF) of O2’s metering and billing system after allegations surfaced that the firm may have overcharged customers. 
 
This information was brought to Ofcom’s attention by a third party assessor, which reported their findings that O2 may have taken duplicate payments from some customers. The regulator alleged 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.” 
 
This infraction would constitute a Category 1 EPF and could warrant severe sanctions for the company. O2 did not classify the incident as an EPF. 
 
Today, it has been announced that a second investigation will be undertaken by the UK watchdog, related to O2’s response to statutory information requests made by Ofcom. Proceedings will seek to identify if O2 responded to these requests in a way compliant with Section 135 of the Communications Act. In short, this section requires that their response be “complete, accurate, and on time.”
 
Despite initial hopes of concluding this investigation by the end of 2019, later reports suggest that Ofcom will carry this investigation into the new year. In an official statement, Ofcom said that “we are aiming to complete our evidence gathering phase in this investigation by the end of January”. 
 
An O2 spokesperson said: "We worked openly with Ofcom throughout this matter and will continue to cooperate with them for this investigation. We took initial steps to refund and apologise to affected customers, and our investigations to identify any others impacted are ongoing."

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