The telecoms watchdog, Ofcom, reported the more than 1,100 customers had complaints against TalkTalk. The customers had been aggressively pursued to pay bills that did not exist. Ofcom has told the company to “clean up” its act or consequences would result.
In one case debt collectors pushed a customer to pay 610 pounds for services she had terminated four years ago. Another customer who had closed their account two years ago was pushed to pay a bill for 354 pounds. Ofcom has ordered TalkTalk to call off the aggressive debt collectors and to make repairs to customer’s credit ratings. If the actions demanded aren’t met within the next 30 days TalkTalk could face fines up to 10 per cent of its annual revenue. Last year’s sales were 1.39 billion pounds.
Ofcom’s survey of 100 complaints found 72 had a breach of telecom regulations. Some billings for customers for non-existent accounts were still continuing even five months after the problem was first brought to the attention of the company by Ofcom.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s director of consumer affairs said: “You cannot charge customers for a service that does not exist.
“It is a very serious problem – you would think it would have been sorted out [by now]. The continued harm being done to consumers is unacceptable.”
Robert Hammond, head of telecoms at Consumer Focus said: “It is shocking that it has taken the intervention of the regulator for Talk Talk and Tiscali UK to play fair with their customers.
“To threaten customers, who have done nothing wrong, with debt collection and legal action is beyond the pale. Companies seem to put a lot of effort into winning new customers and then fall down on looking after them once they are on the books.”