Ofcom has given BT a major slap on the wrist in the form of a £42 million fine, which was imposed due to the telecoms giant’s unfair reduction of compensation payments given out for the late installation of leased lines.
As you’re probably aware, leased lines are dedicated high-speed internet connections used by businesses, and in some cases when these are being installed, BT doesn’t make the deadline.
If the leased line is for a third-party provider’s installation, compensation is due to the service provider implementing the line – but Ofcom found that between January 2013 and December 2014, BT ‘misused the terms of its contracts’ to reduce the amount of compensation paid out.
BT is supposed to deliver leased lines within 30 working days, although Ofcom noted that if problems occur, in certain circumstances, BT can get an extension on that deadline, or assume a customer has agreed to an extension.
But Ofcom observed that “BT did this retrospectively over a sustained period, to reduce the level of compensation it owed to telecoms providers”.
The £42 million penalty is the largest the watchdog has ever handed down, and Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s Investigations Director, observed: “The size of our fine reflects how important these rules are to protect competition and, ultimately, consumers and businesses.