Own initiative investigation into EE about its compliance with metering and billing requirements

09 February 2017

Complainant: Ofcom Own initiative 
Investigation against: EE Limited (trading as 4GEE, Orange  and  T-Mobile)
Case opened: 29th January 2016
Case closed: 17 January 2017
Issue: Whether EE had complied with its obligations under  General  Condition 11 requiring Communications Providers (“CPs”) to  accurately bill  consumers for their usage of communication services.  
Relevant instrument: General Condition 11 (specifically 11.1) of the  General Conditions of Entitlement (“GCs”).

Update note 9 February 2017

The Confirmation Decision issued to EE Limited on 17 January 2017 can now be found under related content.

End of update note

Following our investigation Ofcom decided to issue EE with a notification under  section 96A of the Communications Act 2003 (the “Act”) on 4 November 2016, as we had reasonable grounds to believe that EE contravened GC 11.1 of the General Conditions between 1 July  2014 and 20 July 2015 and also between 18 November 2015 and 11 January 2016  (‘the Relevant  Periods’).  

Ofcom and EE entered into settlement discussions on these matters and on 16 January 2017 EE wrote to Ofcom admitting its liability in relation to the nature, scope and duration of the contraventions.

In light of the evidence and EE’s admissions, Ofcom is satisfied that EE contravened  GC 11.1 in the Relevant Periods. Specifically, that it did so:

  1. in respect of the first of those periods by overcharging at least 32,145 customers in the order of £245,700 for calls to its customer services department using the number 150; and
  2. in respect of the second period, by overcharging 7,674 customers £2,203.33 for calls and text messages to that number.

Therefore, on 17 January 2017, Ofcom issued EE with a Confirmation Decision under section 96C of the Act.

The Confirmation Decision imposes a financial penalty of £2,700,000 on EE in respect of its  contraventions of GC 11.1. The penalty includes a discount that reflects EE’s co-operation in settling this matter.

A non-confidential version of the Confirmation Decision is currently being prepared and will be published shortly.

Update note: 7 November 2016

Following an investigation, Ofcom has determined that there are reasonable grounds for believing  that EE contravened GC 11 of the General Conditions between 1 July 2014 and 20 July 2015 and also between 18 November 2015 and 11 January 2016. Ofcom has therefore issued a Notification to EE under section 96A of the Communications Act 2003 (the “Act”).

Specifically, Ofcom has reasonable grounds to believe that EE contravened GC 11.1 by rendering  Bills to End-Users of its Public Electronic Communications Services that did not accurately represent the true extent of the service that had been provided.  It did so by over-charging them for calls they made to its customer service number, 150, whilst roaming in the EU.

EE now has an opportunity to make representations to Ofcom on the matters contained in the Notification before Ofcom makes a final decision in accordance with section 96C of the Act.

End  of update note

Following consideration of information provided by EE in response to Ofcom’s enquiries, Ofcom has  decided to open an investigation into EE’s compliance with GC 11. GC 11 places obligations upon all CPs to, amongst other things, ensure that every amount  stated in the bill is accurate.  GC 11.1 specifically states that:

“The Communications Provider shall not render any Bill to an End-User in respect of the provision of any Public Electronic Communications Services unless every amount stated in that Bill represents and does not exceed the  true extent of any such service actually provided to the End-User in  question.”

As part of our monitoring and enforcement programme in respect of compliance  with  metering and billing requirements, Ofcom became aware of evidence that EE may have charged some customers US roaming rates when calling customer services using the “150” number from within the European Economic Area (EEA) between 1 July  2014 – 20 July 2015. 

Ofcom has therefore decided to open an investigation that will examine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe EE has failed to comply with its obligations under GC 11.

Case Leader: Ian Vaughan (ian.vaughan@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/01174/12/15