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Ofcom slaps Plusnet with £880k fine for not doing ex-customers proud

Plusnet slogan

UK ISP Plusnet has been hit with a hefty Ofcom fine of £880,000 for continuing to bill more than a thousand ex-customers.

The BT-owned ISP has attempted to carve its own niche in the competitive sector by creating an earthy, honest, trustworthy brand, and this ruling is unlikely to reinforce that image. The problem occurred as an error in Plusnet’s billing system meant that cancelled lines were still recognised as live, leading to 1025 customers continuing to be charged after landline or broadband service had been cancelled.

The company’s advertising campaigns for years have always focused on the idea of it being the ‘friendly’ and ‘approachable’ northerner, who would go beyond the call of duty to make sure you have a happy day. Yorkshiremen must be spitting in disgust after abusing its image.

Telecoms.com’s sources in the north of England concurred. “They’ve taken the historic name of Yorkshire and thrown it in the mud,” said Jimi Wall, a proud Bradfordian. “We’re known for cricket, Timmy Taylors and a good chat on the bus. Now you have these uppity southerners, trying to make themselves seem more approachable, and all they’ve done is abuse our hospitality. Paul Daniels would be turning in his grave.”

The fine itself was in fact reduced 20% due to ‘Plusnet’s willingness to enter into a formal settlement’. After the error was discovered, Plusnet refunded 356 customers a total of £212,140, a figure which included a 4% interest payment.

“This fine should serve as a reminder to telecoms companies that they must adhere to Ofcom’s billing rules at all times, or face the consequences,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, a comment which was accompanied by an intense, steely stare. Telcos beware. Should you violate Ofcom’s rules you be receiving the sharp end of the stick in 12-18 months.

 

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