Telco customers owed £10 million in unclaimed credit

Consumers in the UK could be owed as much as £10 million in unclaimed telecommunications credit, the regulator Ofcom has revealed.

A study by Ofcom suggested that over the last two years two million people in the UK left their telecommunications company and did not claim money that was legally owed to them after the switch.

Ofcom wants to draw consumer attention to the fact that many of them are entitled to a refund from the telcos if they paid line rental in advice or if they are due promotional credits.

In fact, the issue is so pervasive that many people do not realise they are owed money by their landline, mobile, broadband, and pay TV providers.

To make things easier for people, Ofcom has negotiated a number of deals with the major telcos to ensure refunds are automatic or as painless as possible.

T-Mobile has agreed to automatically refund all outstanding credit. Vodafone will refund all customers who pay by direct debit. O2 will refund amounts over £20.

Virgin Media and Virgin Mobile will refund customers in amounts over £1 if they terminate their contracts before 28 days, a process that will be automated from December of this year.

Sky, Talk Talk, and Three need to be contacted for refunds, making them the more difficult telcos to work with.

Ofcom was keen to point out that only BT, Orange, and the Post Office automatically refunded credit, regardless of the amount. Most others have a threshold or other limitations.

“Ofcom welcomes this increase in transparency which means that in all cases consumers should be informed by their provider if they have outstanding credit, and what they need to do to reclaim it,” the regulator said in a statement. “Nevertheless, Ofcom thinks that industry best practice should mean that all providers refund customers the outstanding credit they are owed automatically, and without any further action needed by the consumer.”