Ofcom has fined BT £245,000 after an investigation found that the company overcharged EE’s mobile customers for making calls to 118 directory enquiries services.
Ofgem said that although use of directory enquiries has declined in recent years, many people still rely on them as an important means of obtaining the number they need. Older people and those without internet access are more likely to make 118 calls.
To protect vulnerable people and ensure fairer prices, Ofgem introduced a price cap on 118 phone numbers in April 2019. The Ofgem investigation found that BT did not implement this immediately for EE customers.
As a result, over a three-month period, between April and June last year, almost 6,000 EE customers were overcharged by around £42,000 for making calls to 118 numbers. However, BT was able to correct most bills before EE customers paid them. This meant that around £10,000 of the total amount overcharged was paid by EE customers. All customers have since been refunded.
BT’s failure to implement the 118 price cap was a serious breach of Ofgem rules, particularly taking into account the potentially vulnerable people that use directory enquiry services.
The fine of £245,000 includes a 30% discount in recognition that BT admitted its failings by agreeing to settle the case.