Poor Customer Service Costs EE an Incredible £1,000,000

Providing subpar customer service can be a costly ordeal in more way than one, as EE has found.

Besides risking the loss of customers, the EE (trading as 4GEE, Orange and T-Mobile) has been slapped with a hefty fine by Ofcom. The UK regulator fined telecoms provider ã1,000,000 for failing to comply with its rules on handling customer complaints.

An investigation found that, over the period investigated - from 22 July 2011 to 8 April 2014 - EE did not provide certain customers with accurate or adequate information about their right to take their complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme.

EE failed to send out written notifications to a number of customers that should have referenced their right to take their complaint to ADR eight weeks after they first raised their complaint. The provider also failed to state in its Customer Complaints Code that, where relevant, customers could access its ADR scheme by requesting a "deadlock letter".

A number of customers who had requested a "deadlock letter" during this time were not sent them as required, and in some cases customers were told by EE that letters of this type were not issued.

In addition, between July 2011 and February 2014, EE sent paper bills to Orange customers and written notifications to Orange, 4GEE and T-Mobile customers that did not reference that they can use its ADR scheme for free.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom's Consumer and Content Group Director, said: "It's vital that customers can access all the information they need when they're pursuing a complaint.

"Ofcom imposes strict rules on how providers must handle complaints and treats any breach of these rules very seriously.

"The fine imposed against EE takes account of the serious failings that occurred in the company's complaints handling, and the extended period over which these took place."

As a result of Ofcom's investigation, EE has amended its Customer Complaints Code to include a correct reference of its obligation to issue a "deadlock letter". The telecoms company has also amended the information provided on its paper bills and in its written notifications to make sure customers are informed that they may use ADR at no cost to themselves.

Ofcom has also decided to impose a financial penalty of £1,000,000 against EE as a result of its contravention. The penalty is payable to Ofcom and then passed on to HM Treasury. EE is required to pay the penalty within 20 working days of receiving the decision.