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Ofcom fines Three £250k over complaint handling shortfalls

Regulator claims Three failed to register complaints properly or make customers aware of their rights


Mobile operator Three has been fined 250,000 by regulator Ofcom for breaching its rules on responding to customer complaints in a "fair and timely" manner.

According to Ofcom, the company's complaints handling procedures fell short in several areas, with Three reportedly closing down disputes without verifying they had been fully resolved first.

The network provider has also been criticised by Ofcom for not registering calls properly in some instances, meaning they were not treated as stated in Three's formal complaint process.

Therefore, customers were never made aware of their rights to escalate complaints to senior management or to an alternative dispute resolution service provider, trade body or ombudsmen.

In a statement, Ofcom said Three had cooperated with it throughout its investigation and taken steps to ensure its complaint handling processes are now up to scratch.

Even so, it has decided to impose a penalty of 250,000 on the company, which it is required to pay within 30 days of being notified about it.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom's consumer and content group director, said enforcement action is necessary to ensure customers feel confident their complaints will be treated seriously in future.

"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," said Pollack.

"The company fully co-operated with our investigation and has now taken steps to ensure it's compliant with the rules on complaints handling."

In a statement to IT Pro, Three said it has made great progress when it comes to improving how it handles customer disuptes.

"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," the statement reads.

"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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