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Eircom overcharges 31,500 customers

€409,000 blunder

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Ireland's biggest telecoms company, Eircom, has overcharged more than 31,500 customers, it has been revealed.

The revelation came as telecoms regulator ComReg issued a statement saying it wanted a full report from Eircom explaining how such an incident could happen - and how it would be prevented in the future. It is understood that the affected customers were overcharged some €409,000 between them.

The bulk of the overcharging relates to Eircom's call management services (CMS), such as call forwarding and call answering, which it offers for free along with certain telecoms packages. The company said that after a review, it found that it had overcharged some customers for certain CMS services.

The incident comes just after ComReg concluded investigations into mobile operators O2 and Vodafone, which in June said that billing errors caused them to overcharge almost 160,000 customers who used mobile phones while abroad.

"ComReg is seeking a full and detailed response from the company [Eircom], including the measures it is taking to rectify the accounts of affected customers," ComReg commissioner Isolde Goggin said.

"It is disappointing that the largest telecoms company has discovered that there were errors within its billing system. ComReg is seriously concerned that internal systems failed to adequately protect consumers. The recent incidents of overcharging among a number of telecoms companies have seriously affected consumer confidence and trust in billing systems. It is imperative that consumers have trust in the accuracy of billing systems," Goggin added.

In mid-July, ComReg chairperson John Doherty wrote to the chief executives of all authorised phone companies requiring each company to review its billing arrangements to confirm that systems are sufficiently robust to minimise the likelihood of errors. A report from each company is due by 12 August.

For its part, Eircom will refund affected subscribers double the amount they were overcharged and has set up a freefone number (1800 201027) to deal with queries relating to the matter.

© ENN

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