Ofcom has slapped TalkTalk with a 3 million fine for wrongly charging customers for services they never received.
More than 1,000 customers had lodged complaints by the time Ofcom started investigating both TalkTalk and its subsidiary Tiscali in late 2010.
The pair had incorrectly billed over 62,000 customers between 1 January and 1 November 2010. At this point, Ofcom issued the companies with a notification telling them to rectify their billing problems by 2 December 2010.
Yet despite efforts by TalkTalk and Tiscali to make changes, they still incorrectly billed nearly 3,000 consumers between 2 December 2010 and 4 March 2011.
"Ofcom has therefore issued TalkTalk and Tiscali UK with a financial penalty to reflect the seriousness of their breach of the rules and to act as a deterrent to them and other telecoms companies who must comply with the rules," the watchdog said in a statement.
TalkTalk and Tiscali UK have already paid over 2.5 million in refunds and good will payments to more than 65,000 affected consumers.
We are of course disappointed at the scale of the fine and feel it is a disproportionate penalty.
Ofcom said the fine would have been higher had it not been for the providers' moves to remedy the harm caused.
TalkTalk was still unhappy about the amount it was fined.
"We are of course disappointed at the scale of the fine and feel it is a disproportionate penalty," said Dido Harding, chief executive (CEO) of TalkTalk.
"Last year I recognised that we needed to invest in our systems, processes and customer services and we are making significant progress. We have seen a 40 per cent year-on-year reduction in customer service calls; Ofcom receives three times fewer calls about TalkTalk than they did at the height of the Tiscali integration; and our 5 million customers are more loyal and more satisfied than they were 12 months ago."
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Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.
He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.