Ofcom fines Three £250,000 over complaint-handling rules breach

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Investigation into complaint monitoring and enforcement found Three did not handle some complaints in fair and timely manner

Three has been fined £250,000 for failing to comply with rules Ofcom enforce on handling customer complaints as part of a network-wide investigation launched by the regulator in September last year

Ofcom found that the network had closed several customer complaints without discerning whether a full resolution had been achieved, against Ofcom’s approved Code of Practice for complaints handling.

The regulator also found that Three had failed to log calls from customers as complaints in some instances, meaning consumers were unable to enter Three’s formal complaint procedure.

These breaches meant customers weren’t given options for alternative dispute resolution (ADR), an escalation process that Ofcom said is an “important piece of consumer protection”.

Ofcom’s Consumer and Content Group Director Claudio Pollack said: “When things go wrong, customers are not only entitled to complain to their provider, but must have confidence that their complaint will be dealt with fairly.

“We treat any failure to follow these rules very seriously. The fine imposed on Three takes account of the shortcomings in its complaints handling, but reflects that the harm to consumers in this case was limited. The company fully co-operated with our investigation and has now taken steps to ensure it’s compliant with the rules on complaints handling.”

Three will be required to pay the penalty directly to Ofcom within 30 days of receiving notification.  The money will then be transferred to HM Treasury.

Ofcom said the operator had fully co-operated with the regulator during the investigation.  A spokesperson for Three also pointed to the fact that it was top of Ofcom’s list of of least complained about networks during Q1 as evidence that it is improving it’s customer service and procedures.

The spokesperson added: “Customer service and complaint resolution is really important to us. Ofcom’s own figures, collected over the past three years, reflect a huge shift: we have become the least complained about mobile operator in the UK in 2014.

“Ofcom identified issues with our complaints handling process back in Spring 2013. Since then we have worked closely and openly with Ofcom to address these as part of the broader effort to improve complaint resolution, contacting all the customers that might have been impacted. Delivering a great customer experience remains an absolute focus across the business.”

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