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Post Office fined £175,000 by Ofcom for overcharging customers with impairments

The Post Office has been fined £175,000 by communications regulator Ofcom for overcharging customers with hearing or speech impairments who made telephone calls using a relay service.

According to Ofcom, the Post Office breached a rule requiring it to give people with hearing or speech impairments the right to access comparable phone services as those without impairments, resulting in up to 126 people each year being overcharged.

Between August 2013 and November 2018, the Post Office broke this rule by failing to offer a special price scheme for calls made by customers that needed to use relay services, such as text-to-speech and speech-to-text translation. These schemes essentially compensate customers for the extra time it takes to make phone calls using these services.

What's more, it took more than two years between the Post Office becoming aware it was breaking the rules and fixing the issue.

I was affected by the issue – what can I do?

In addition to the fine, Ofcom is also requiring the Post Office to refund affected customers.

This should be automatic, but if you've not heard from the Post Office and think you may have been affected, it's worth getting in touch with it.

The details for how to contact the Post Office can be found on its website.

What does the Post Office say?

Post Office director of telecoms Meredith Sharples said: "The Post Office apologises to any of our customers who made text relay calls using our service and did not receive the discount that they were entitled to. Up to 126 customers a year were affected, and where possible we have refunded customers the full cost of any calls made. We now no longer apply any charge to calls made using this service.

"The Post Office has always provided text relay services and we recognise the important role they play for anyone who may have hearing or speech impediments. We reported this overcharging matter to Ofcom in January 2019 and have co-operated fully with their investigation.

"We have already acted upon the remedial steps required by Ofcom and have put in place robust processes to ensure this kind of error does not happen again, by significantly increasing our telecoms regulation and compliance teams."

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