I have an update for you all on the billing issue that came to light last year, in 2018. As you know, as soon as we found out about it, fixed it, and began to refund our members, we also informed Ofcom, the telecoms regulator. Over the past year, we have been working with them as they took a closer look at the issue and opened an investigation to examine whether there are grounds to believe giffgaff charged members incorrectly.
Following this investigation, Ofcom have announced today that they plan on fining us £2 million; however, as we agreed to enter into Ofcom’s settlement process this will be discounted by 30% to £1.4 million. As a business, we have already begun - and will be fully - implementing the recommendations within Ofcom’s final decision.
While Ofcom was conducting their investigation, we made the decision to set aside some funds from our 2018 profits to use in case of a fine. Because of that, we’re able to make sure that this cost will not be passed onto you and it won’t affect the cost of goodybags and/or credit.
I’d also like to personally thank everyone in the community for how they’ve supported other members who were affected by this. We always say that giffgaff is nothing without its members and that is never truer than when everyone pulls together, even in a situation that isn’t the best.
We’ve taken major steps to refund the members affected; however, for those whose records we were not able to hold on to, and who we haven’t been able to get in touch with, we’ve made the decision to do something different. We have estimated the potential impact this issue would have had. We did this by looking at our existing data, and used it to project the impact between the time when this issue began, arriving at a figure of £752,257. Clearly, this money doesn’t belong to us, so we will be donating this amount entirely to charity.
Our most dedicated members nominate charities every six months to be the recipient of Payback donations, and we will be splitting this amount evenly between the ten charities that have been shortlisted over the last twelve months, to make sure it is going to causes that giffgaff members care about.
On behalf of everyone at giffgaff, I’d like to apologise again to all those members affected by this and thank you for your ongoing support.
Ash Schofield - CEO
If there is anyone who might have missed this happening or wants clarification on what happened, then I have outlined the timeline of events below. If anyone wants to check the status of their refund, or if they think they are still owed money from us, you can check by entering your account details into this web app.
In May 2018, we discovered a billing issue that arose from a member complaint. We investigated this and it transpired a billing issue in relation to data had began in May 2011. In June 2018 we fixed it, informed you and Ofcom and began to pay everyone affected whose records we held between the period of June 2016 to June 2018 back.
The data issue affected members who had been using mobile data on their airtime credit, who then bought a goodybag, and continued to use mobile data. They continued to be charged from their credit after the goodybag was bought, instead of using the goodybag’s data allowance.
This issue affected 2.6 million members in total and £2.1million was refunded to 1.2 million members.
Our investigation showed that 90% of members affected were to be refunded £5 or less.
By mid - November we paid all existing members back between the above time period and, over the past few months, have been trying to reach those members who have left giffgaff, so that we can give them their money back.
For the 1.4million unrefunded members whose records we no longer hold for the period of the 26th May 2011 to 31st May 2016, we will be donating the sum to charity.
During Ofcom’s investigation we took a closer look at our systems, and in February 2019 we discovered that this issue also had a voice call related element to it. For the approximately 6,000 members for which we hold call data records between January 2018 until February 2019, we have refunded them directly a total sum of £8,591. For the approx 20,183 members affected that we haven’t been able to identify during the time period before this, we will be donating the sum to charity.
Today, Ofcom announced they would be fining us £2 million with a 30% discount, making the final figure £1.4million.
Today, we have informed you of this decision and, of course, if any member has any questions on the matter, we’ll do our best to answer these. You can do that by leaving a comment below.
As outlined above, we will be making steps to ensure that for those 1.4 million members we weren’t able to refund relating to both the voice and data billing issue we will be donating the sum of £752,257 evenly to ten charities that we know mean a lot to our members.
If anyone wants to check the status of their refund, or if they think they are still owed money from us, you can check by entering your account details into this web app