Ofcom slaps TalkTalk with £3 million fine

Telecommunications watchdog Ofcom has fined TalkTalk a bumper £3 million for incorrect billing following its folding of the Tiscali UK subsidiary into the parent business.The company's transgressions resulted in around 65,000 customers being overcharged for existing services or charged for services that they had previously cancelled. The cock-up prompted over a thousand complaints to the regulator.Since Ofcom started its investigation in July last year, TalkTalk has paid out more than £2.5 million in refunds to customers affected by the billing errors, on top of which the company will now have to find the £3 million Ofcom is demand.In a statement, Ofcom explained that the bumper fine represented the "seriousness" of the company's actions, but was lower than it could have been thanks to the refunds TalkTalk has been giving out.The billing errors occurred between January and November 2010, affecting mainly customer who had closed their accounts and should not have been receiving further bills. Despite Ofcom becoming involved in November and setting a deadline of December for the problem to be solved, TalkTalk incorrectly billed a further 3,000 customers between November 2010 and March 2011.The over-billing was blamed on the company's decision to amalgamate its Tiscali subsidiary under the main TalkTalk brand, phasing out the original brand altogether. The combination of billing systems, the company claimed, resulted in confusion and the issuing of incorrect bills.TalkTalk has expressed disappointment at the size of the fine, but has thus far not indicated any intentions to appeal.