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TalkTalk fined £3m for wrong bills

Ofcom has handed telecoms company TalkTalk a £3 million fine for billing customers for services they had not received.

The communications watchdog said an investigation into TalkTalk and Tiscali UK in July 2010 found both companies had wrongly issued bills to people, particularly those who had closed their accounts.

Tiscali was bought by TalkTalk in July 2009, and has since been rebranded TalkTalk.

Ofcom said it opened an investigation into TalkTalk and Tiscali UK last year after receiving more than 1,000 complaints.

It found the firms wrongly issued bills in just over 62,000 cases between January 1 and November 2010.

Ofcom issued a legally-binding notification in November, warning steps had to be taken to sort out the billing problems by December 2.

But the watchdog said despite taking some important steps to comply with the rules, such as changing customer records management systems, almost 3,000 consumers were still incorrectly billed between December 2, 2010 and March 4 this year.

It said it had issued the £3 million financial penalty to "reflect the seriousness of their breach of the rules and to act as a deterrent to them and other telecoms companies who must comply with the rules".

TalkTalk had to refund customers by December 2, 2010, and Ofcom said more than £2.5 million had been paid in refunds and goodwill payments to more than 65,000 affected consumers.

A statement said: "Ofcom considers this to be a serious breach of the rules. However, Ofcom is issuing TalkTalk and Tiscali UK with a lower penalty than they might otherwise have been given, had they not taken steps towards complying with the rules, and taken action to remedy the harm they caused to consumers."

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