Gavel on a court bench

eircom and Vodafone fined for overcharging customers

Judge John O’Neill said customers would have been upset, petrified, and "worried sick"

eircom and Vodafone have been fined and convicted for overcharging customers. Three Ireland was spared conviction and will get the Probation Act if they donate €15,000 to charity by September 28.

All three providers pleaded guilty to charges under Section 45 of the Communications Act at Dublin District Court yesterday following an investigation by the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg.

eircom was fined €21,000 and Vodafone was fined €10,000 after they each pleaded guilty to seven charges.

Judge John O’Neill said eircom’s code of practice was a joke and said when customers complained they were “pushed from Billy to Jack and they were ignored”.

He also said customers would have been upset, petrified, and “worried sick” when receiving letters from debt collectors asking for money on behalf of eircom.

Customer complaints

ComReg compliance analyst, Miriam Kilraine, told the court there were seven customer complaints in relation to eircom.

One customer asked to cancel their account in January of 2014, but they continued to be billed and were contacted by a debt collection company.

eircom also had debt collectors pursue a man living in a nursing home after he had already cancelled his account in 2013.

The provider had also failed to deliver a service to a consumer who had money debited from their account.

Another eircom customer was overcharged for broadband after his direct debit details were mixed up.

Ms Kilraine went on to say in relation to Vodafone that in November 2014, a man emailed the company to cancel the account of his son who was seriously injured in a fall. After numerous calls to the company he still ended up paying for another two months.

Judge O’Neill was also told a Vodafone customer opted for unlimited calls and texts but these were not applied to the account. Another Vodafone user was overcharged by €705 after she was double-billed.

Ms Kilraine told the court that Three Ireland, which took over O2 accounts last year, kept billing and getting paid by two customers who had cancelled accounts.

Another customer got a phone upgrade and accepted a deal where she would get 300 minutes of free calls to the UK if she paid €2.99 as well as her €55 a month package.

However, she was charged €300. She visited the shop and got no explanation, and the sales assistant hid from her.

Human and system error

Counsel for the companies said the cases were a result of human and system error. The providers have now all set up new remediation plans to ensure these problems won’t happen again.

Counsel for eircom and Vodafone also asked the court to note they had 2.3 million and two million customers respectively.

The providers agreed to contribute to prosecution costs.

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