How angry would you be if a company you had left continued to send you bills? What if they threatened you with debt collection for not paying? Well Ofcom has finally slapped TalkTalk for this very issue.
Ofcom’s threat to fine TalkTalk and Tiscali UK up to 10% of their turnover unless they stop sending bills to ex-customers is certainly good news. And it’ll come as a relief to those people tearing their hair out over yet another bill landing on their doormats.
I think Robert Hammond, head of digital and telecoms at Consumer Focus, got it right when he said:
‘How hard can it be to stop billing someone when they have cancelled their service – this is the very basics of customer service? To threaten customers, who have done nothing wrong, with debt collection and legal action is beyond the pale.’
What gets me is TalkTalk’s blatant disregard for its ex-customers when it says the problems with the cancellation process were caused by ‘an error on a legacy billing system’. Sure, it’s the inherited Tiscali that’s been having these problems since 2006, but it shouldn’t take this long to fix a ‘technical glitch’.
TalkTalk then goes on to say:
‘[It] is resolving this by migrating all ex-Tiscali customers onto one network and billing system which will allow us to process cancellations much more effectively… TalkTalk Group has co-operated fully with Ofcom’s investigation and we apologise for the inconvenience caused to this limited group of former customers.’
It’s one thing to be in breach of the telecoms regulations, but it’s another to come out with what is essentially an empty statement. If TalkTalk is truly sorry for its actions, it would have issued a refund to all those affected the moment it realised it had been charging people for services they had cancelled.
It accepts that the technical issue has been going on for some time, yet it deals with refunds on a ‘case by case’ basis. Plus, it waits until it’s being investigated and finally threatened with enforcement action by the regulator before it comes up with a solution. I’m sorry, but I’m not impressed.