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Ofcom hits Three with £250,000 fine for mishandling of customer complaints

Three might be humming along nicely these days, and gaining ground on the bigger UK network operators, but it has had to rethink some elements of its customer service strategy, having just been hit by a big fine courtesy of Ofcom.

Following what Ofcom judged to be a failure to satisfactorily handle customer complaints, the watchdog imposed a £250,000 fine on the network.

Ofcom's investigation uncovered evidence that in some cases, complaint calls were not logged as they should be, hence those complaints didn't follow the formal process set out by the network operator. And more seriously, some complaints were closed before Three had made sure that they were fully resolved.

Ofcom concluded that as a result of these breaches, the network didn't make the complaining customers aware of their rights to take a complaint to ADR – alternative dispute resolution, whereby a grievance the service provider can't resolve can be put in front of an independent body for a judgement call.

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Three failed to mention the ADR process on its paper bills – breaching a stipulation enforced on network providers.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom's Consumer and Content Group Director, commented: "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."

Where possible, Three also moved to further act on previous complaints which had been prematurely dismissed.

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