back to article Plusnet slapped with £880k fine for billing ex customers

Broadband provider Plusnet has been slapped with a £880,000 fine from UK comms watchdog Ofcom for continuing to bill former customers. More than 1,000 ex-customers were overcharged £500,000 by BT-owned Plusnet, after it continued to bill for landline and broadband services that had been cancelled. The penalty is the result of …

  1. Symon Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    "I hate the fucking Eagles, man."

    How would you not notice paying £500 for something you weren't getting?

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Re: "I hate the fucking Eagles, man."

    'Cause telcos aren't renowned for being the best at transparent billing?

  3. MyffyW Silver badge

    £500 for something you weren't getting

    Sounds like high-end BDSM to me.

  4. creepy gecko

    Re: "I hate the fucking Eagles, man."

    [Segue into Viva Las Vegas]

    I always keep a careful watch on my bank accounts after cancelling direct debits or subscriptions. It's astonishing that lots of naive folks put their trust in the ability of faceless companies to follow their request and stop billing them. It doesn't always turn out well.

  5. DNTP Silver badge

    Re: paying for something you weren't getting

    Once I paid $12 for an Eagles album on CD thinking I was going to get music.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: £500 for something you weren't getting

    "It has refunded 356 customers a total of £212,140, which included interest at a rate of 4 per cent for each customer"

    An average of £595.90.

    And £212,140 is less than half of the £500,000 overcharged.

    They probably wrecked a few folks' credit history along the way.

    Personal fines for the directors might bang the message home.

  7. TheVogon Silver badge

    Re: "I hate the fucking Eagles, man."

    Because some people don't bother to read and check bank statements that are now often online only?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: paying for something you weren't getting

    "Once I paid $12 for an Eagles album on CD thinking I was going to get music."

    Yes that is a bit nuts considering it's on TPB as lossless....

  9. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

    Checking bank statements

    "Because some people don't bother to read and check bank statements that are now often online only?"

    That gets tricky when your internet connection is down (yet again).

    I suspect that my habit of checking statements against transaction downloads and feeding the lot into a money management package is far from common.

    I cut my IT teeth on accounting systems so it's a piece of cake for me, but many folks simply haven't developed that skillset.

    The trend towards paying for everything by plastic makes checking bank statements increasingly difficult.

  10. MrKrotos

    That number seems interesting "1,025" so thats a kibibyte of customers?

  11. Your alien overlord - fear me

    You do me proud son !!!!

  12. djstardust Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Oh well ....

    That will give their parent company BT another excuse for a few more price rises this year.

    I love how people praise Plusnet and berate BT not realising one is actually owned by the other.

  13. IsJustabloke Silver badge
    Meh

    Re: Oh well ....

    Because one is shit and the other not so much?

    I've got no complaints about plusnet. full stop. Their service has been rock solid, I get the speeds they told me I would, they responded quickly and reasonably to the single compliant about speed I had and they bill me exactly as much as they said they would plus any phone calls I make using my landline (very few!)

  14. Esme

    Re: Oh well ....

    Same here. I've known Plusnet were owned by BT ever since BT bought Plusnet - and was wary that the quality of service might decline, but it hasn't. Bizarre as it may seem, despite being a subsidiary of BT, Plusnet really do seem to be generally rather better than BT, and I've always found Plusnet service to be very good. Why BT don't take a leaf from Plusnet in terms of customer service is what bemuses me - they can hardlyclaim that they haven't the expertise within the business in order to do the necessary...

  15. dvd

    Re: Oh well ....

    Conversely I've been trying to get PlusNet to sort out my speed and stability problems for six months. Six fucking months.

    Their days are numbered.

  16. IsJustabloke Silver badge
    Happy

    Re: Oh well ....

    "Conversely I've been trying to get PlusNet.... "

    Well I'm not saying they're perfect but I can only speak as I find, as can you :)

  17. FlossyThePig

    Re: Oh well ....

    ...I've been trying to get PlusNet to sort out my speed and stability problems...

    In the old ADSL days I kept getting connection problems. Support bod with Yorkshire accent said I should plug the router into the socket behind the faceplate of the master socket so they could monitor the equipment. Two days later they diagnosed a faulty router and sent me a replacement, which fixed the problem.

    I now have FTTC and had an intermittent problem which was fixed by restarting the Openreach modem whenever the connection was lost. Without going into details there was a fault on the ring main supplying power to the modem. Fixed the problem and connection has been stable ever since.

  18. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Re: Oh well ....

    It was Plusnet themselves who reported the issue to Ofcom. I am sure that certain other ISP's/mobile companies would be far more shall we say reluctant to do that.

    It was nice to know that OFCOM actually got off its fat backside and did something.

  19. Gordon Pryra

    "in lieu of payments owed to customers whom it could not contact."

    They managed to take it out of their accounts,

    Which did not seem to cause any problems at the time.....

    so they have the bank details,

    fucking put it back in .........

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "in lieu of payments owed to customers whom it could not contact."

    The provider has donated the remaining funds to a dozen local charities

    And what Charities would they be.....

    The home for retired BT engineers, The Openreach destitute fund or the Telecoms thieving bastard hand relief society ?

  21. Colemanisor

    Re: "in lieu of payments owed to customers whom it could not contact."

    "Telecoms thieving bastard hand relief society " brilliant!

  22. sitta_europea

    How can you not notice?

    You don't have to not notice.

    I was a customer of Orange for seven years. When I opened the account I had one point of contact to get a teleohone service and a broadband service.

    When I cancelled the service they didn't tell me that I had to cancel the broadband service separately from the telephone service, and they continued to bill me for the broadband service, and collect the payments by direct debit, for 18 months after I cancelled the telephone service -- despite the fact that there was no longer a telephone line for the broadband service to use and I no longer lived at the address where the non-existent service was allegedly delivered.

    Finally after cancelling the broadband service with about fifteen different Orange contact points they eventually agreed to stop billing me and cancel the broadband contract. Then they told me that because of their policy they could only reimburse me for twelve months service.

    No prizes for guessing what I said to some guy who the other day stopped me in the street and tried to sell me some service from Orange.

  23. zaax

    Re: How can you not notice?

    Just reclaim the DD's

  24. Lee D Silver badge

    Re: How can you not notice?

    I don't care what YOUR SYSTEM can refund.

    YOUR COMPANY will refund me for 18 months of non-provided (and non-providable) service.

    Quite literally, it's theft as they've taken your money and not provided the promised service, if there's no phone line to provide it on.

  25. TitterYeNot

    Re: How can you not notice?

    "YOUR COMPANY will refund me for 18 months of non-provided (and non-providable) service."

    If billing was by Direct Debit then it is covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee, so you don't need to claim it back from Orange, you claim it back from your bank. If you've got evidence that the Direct Debit payments were incorrect, the Bank is legally obliged to refund you the full amount overpaid, and then it is up to them to go after the third party (the originator) to recover their costs, in this case Orange.

    If your bank refutes this, have a word with the banking ombudsman, who will gladly have a word in their shell-like ears to point out the error of their ways, rather firmly.

    To quote the Financial Ombudsman Service website - "if the originator or the bank/building society makes an error, the customer is guaranteed a full and immediate refund of the amount paid."

  26. Peter2 Silver badge

    Re: How can you not notice?

    Moreover, your statutory rights say that they can't do that.

    Write them a letter titled "Letter Before Action" and offer them the opportunity to either:-

    A) Refund the money within 28 days.

    B) Face a claim in the small claims court showing that your sent them a letter saying "I wish to cancel" and the fact they continued billing you.

    The letter will go to their legal team, and it'll suddenly become possible to refund your money, since it's a lot cheaper than getting a judgement against them.

  27. Wilseus

    Re: How can you not notice?

    I had a similar issue to this with a Virgin (ex NTL) account quite a few years ago. They were billing me too much month after month. It was about 18 months before they finally fixed the problem, but like the OP's case, they were "unable" to refund me further back than 12 months.

    Alas I couldn't use the Direct Debit guarantee as I'd cancelled the Direct Debit long before in order to stop them taking the wrong amount out of my bank account.

  28. andy gibson

    fines don't work

    All they'll do is put up their prices so their customer pay the fine for them.

    Instead, force them to reduce their prices and lock them for x years.

  29. adam payne Silver badge

    Looks like BT line rental is going up again.

  30. Andy Non

    That was the final straw for me. I've left BT now and switched to Three's mobile internet, so no line rental payments. Suits me just fine and a lot cheaper than BT's broadband + land line package, especially considering the land line was hardly ever used to make calls.

  31. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Always cancel the DD with your bank

    Don't rely on the payee deciding to stop collecting payments. If they think you still owe them something, they can bill you for it. It's a lot harder to argue once they have your money.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plusnet..... we just take that little bit extra.

  33. Richard 12 Silver badge

    We'll do you

  34. Dwarf Silver badge

    How is a lady that looks like she's about to puke and a blue background in any related to this article ?

  35. Richard 12 Silver badge

    El Reg has a long history of completely unrelated stock photos.

    I sometimes wonder which RNG they use to pick them.

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