Ofcom has handed Three, the UK’s fastest growing network, with a £250,000 fine over its inadequate handling of customer complaints.
The investigation into Three forms part of the UK communications regulator’s wider monitoring and enforcement programme designed to ensure that communication providers in the UK are handling customer grievances and complaints fairly and appropriately.
The inquiry found that Three did not deal with some of its customer complaints in a fair and/or timely manner. Some complaints, it was found, were closed before Three had established that they were fully resolved.
In other instances, the company did not log calls from customers as complaints, which it had a duty to do. As a result, these complaints were not treated in line with Three’s formal complaints process.
Ofcom requires all telecoms providers to follow its approved Code of Practice for complaints handling . Failure to meet with the minimum standards of accessibility, effectiveness and transparency set out in the Code is what led to the breach of conduct.
In addition, Three did not make customers sufficiently aware that they had the right to escalate their complaints to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
ADR allows customers with complaints that cannot be resolved with their provider to refer them to an independent body so that an impartial judgement can be reached. All providers must not only be members of an Ofcom approved ADR scheme, but also help customers to access it if necessary, something, again, which Three was found not to be doing.
The quarter million fine is required to be paid up in full within 30 days of notification to Ofcom, which will then pass it on to HM Treasury.
Three has now rectified its customer complaints policies to comply with Ofcom regulations.