EE fined for complaints handling policies

<p>The telecoms company must pay £1 million for breaching Ofcom rules on complaints handling.</p>

Ofcom has fined EE, the UK's largest mobile phone operator, £1 million for breaching rules surrounding customer complaints.

From 2011 to 2014, EE did not provide customers full information about how complaints could be taken to an independent body. These details should have been provided in writing, but were not, according to the watchdog.

As regulator of the communications industry, Ofcom has recently undertaken a project to identify issues in how complaints are handled by telecommunications companies. The investigation into EE was part of this.

Deadlock letters

When EE customers have a complaint that cannot be resolved, they have the right to take the issue to an independent body up to two months after the complaint is first made. As a precursor to going to the independent body, a "deadlock letter" is requested.

Ofcom found that between July 22nd 2011 and April 8th 2014, EE customers who requested such a letter never received it. 

EE also failed to notify some customers that they could refer any complaint to an independent body free of charge.

Claudio Pollack from Ofcom explained that providing the right information to customers is "vital".

"Ofcom imposes strict rules on how providers must handle complaints and treats any breach of the rules very seriously," he said.

Historic conduct

However, EE made it clear in a statement that the fine was related to historic conduct and does not reflect the company's current policies.

A spokesperson for the company commented: "While this in no way excuses it, it is important to note that we identified issues in our complaints handling and began our programme to tackle these problems head-on in 2013, before Ofcom started their investigation."

The spokesperson added that the company has made significant improvements since then: "Ofcom's current figures highlight that complaints into Ofcom about EE have fallen by 50 per cent in the past year."

EE is jointly owned by Deutsche Telekom and Orange. Both firms have a 50 per cent stake in the company.

On Friday (July 3rd), Orange stock was up 0.78 per cent to 14.27, while Deutsche Telekom was down 0.48 per cent to 15.43.​

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