|Investigation into||Telefonica UK Limited (O2)|
|Case opened||10 July 2019|
This investigation is examining whether O2 has complied with its metering and billing obligations under General Condition C3.2, which requires Communications Providers (“CPs”) to accurately bill consumers for their use of communication services; and the Metering and Billing Direction, which sets out requirements to ensure systems and processes are fit for purpose, as well as the steps to take when an incident occurs.
|Relevant legal provision(s)||
GC C3.2 (formally GC 11.1) and the Metering and Billing Direction
Following information about a billing incident provided to Ofcom from an Approval Body, under the Metering and Billing Direction (the Direction), Ofcom has decided to open an investigation into O2’s compliance with GC C3, formally GC 11, and the Direction. GC C3 places obligations upon all CPs to, among other things, ensure that all charges are accurate and represent the services received by the customer.
GC C3.2 states that:
“Regulated Providers shall not charge an End-User or render or make available any Bill to an End-User, in respect of the provision of any Public Electronic Communications Services, unless every amount charged and/or stated in the Bill represents and does not exceed the true extent of any such service actually provided to the End-User in question.”
In addition, the Metering and Billing Direction is 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. It sets out requirements which includes obtaining approval of their metering and billing systems from third-party assessors, known as Approval Bodies and outlines requirements when a performance failure is identified.
Failure to comply with the Direction can lead to enforcement action under GC C.3.
A notification provided by O2’s Approval Body under the Direction has informed Ofcom that O2 has experienced a Category 1 Extraordinary Performance Failure (EPF).
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.
Ofcom has therefore decided to open an investigation that will examine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe O2 has failed to comply with its obligations under GC C3 and the Direction.
We are aiming to complete our evidence gathering phase in this investigation by the end of December. We will publish a further update on next steps once that phase is complete.
Sarah Packwood (firstname.lastname@example.org)