Ofcom’s Hammer Falls On Post Office
…For Overcharging For Relay Telephone Calls

By Cyber Era Staff

UK TMT regulator, Ofcom has fined Post Office £175,000(US$227,953.25) after an investigation found the company overcharged people with hearing or speech impairments who made telephone calls using a relay service.

Relay services help people with hearing and speech difficulties communicate with anyone over the phone by offering text-to-speech and speech-to-text translation. Ofcom rules required phone providers to offer a ‘special tariff scheme’ for these types of calls when they were made by challenged people. The scheme was designed to compensate those callers for the additional time it took for them to make phone calls using a relay service.

The regulator found that Post Office failed to apply the special tariff to relay calls for at least five years, resulting in up to 126 people each year being overcharged and that it took over two years between Post Office becoming aware of the problem and it being fixed.  

Ofcom considered  this to be a serious breach of its rules to protect potentially vulnerable customers. Taking this, and the lengthy period of Post Office’s non-compliance into account, Ofcom thus imposed a penalty of £175,000 on the company, adding “We are also requiring Post Office to refund affected customers.”

The penalty included a 30 per cent discount in recognition that Post Office had admitted its failings and agreed to settle the case. The money raised from this fine, which must be paid to Ofcom within 20 working days, would be passed on to HM Treasury. 

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