BT fined £2.8m over failures affecting 1.1 million EE and PlusNet customers

BT has been fined £2.8m after EE and Plusnet failed to provide clear and simple contract information to more than a million customers.

Since June 2022, BT's EE and Plusnet businesses made more than 1.3 million sales without providing customers with a contract summary and information documents, which affected at least 1.1 million customers, according to industry watchdog, Ofcom.

This meant that BT broke consumer protection rules which came into effect in 2022. They are designed to ensure customers get clear, comparable information about the services they are considering buying.

"It's unacceptable that BT couldn't get its act together in time, and the company must now pay a penalty for its failings," said Ian Strawhorne, Ofcom enforcement director.

When Ofcom brought in the rules in June 2022, BT assured it that the group was confident the deadline would be met.

But the watchdog said its investigation found that, from January 2022, BT was aware that some of its sales would not meet the deadline.

"In some cases, BT deliberately chose not to comply with the rules on time," said Ofcom.

"Other providers dedicated the resource required to meet the implementation deadline for these new rules, and BT is likely to have saved costs by not doing so."

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It said BT got in contact with affected customers last summer and offered them the chance to request information or cancel their contract without charge.

Some customers had already left BT before the end of their contract however and may have been wrongly charged a so-called exit fee.

Ofcom said: "Our rules are clear that if the required contract summary and contract information is not given, the contract is not binding on customers.

"As a result, an early exit fee should not have been payable by these customers."

As well as the £2.8million fine, BT must also find and reimburse any affected customers who were charged exit fees, contact remaining customers who are still with BT and offer them the right to cancel without charge, and amend all its sales processes to ensure they meet the rules.

Consumer group Which? said the industry watchdog should "continue to take action against any telecoms firms that break the rules".

"It's absolutely right that Ofcom is fining BT for not providing EE and Plusnet customers with clear contract information before they signed up - as some people will have been hit with pricey exit fees they never should have faced," said Which? director of policy and advocacy Rocio Concha.

A BT spokesman said: "We're sorry that some of our pre-contract information and contract summary documents were not available to some of our customers in a timely manner.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused and have taken steps to proactively contact affected customers and arrange for them to receive the information and be refunded where applicable."