Saturday 1 October 2016

Judge orders Meteor and Virgin to give €20k each to charity for overcharging

Tom Tuite

Published 15/12/2015 | 02:30

Virgin Media’s seven charges were 'legacy' issues as a result of taking over the UPC network, Judge O’Neill was told
Virgin Media’s seven charges were 'legacy' issues as a result of taking over the UPC network, Judge O’Neill was told

Telecom companies Virgin Media Ireland and Meteor Mobile must donate €40,000 to charities to avoid criminal convictions for repeatedly overcharging customers.

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After hearing evidence of a catalogue of errors which saw customers ripped off by both firms, Judge John O'Neill said he could understand the frustration they felt when complaints were not resolved despite their repeated efforts.

Both Virgin Media Ireland and Meteor Mobile were ordered to each pay €20,000 to go to four charities and good causes: Pieta House, the Simon Community, the Merchant Quay Project and Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin in Dublin.

Judge O'Neill noted they had no prior convictions and had refunded the 18 complainants, and said it would be better for these causes to benefit rather than imposing convictions and fines.

Adjourning the case until a date in January, he said he would strike out the case if the money was paid. Judge O'Neill also ordered the companies to pay prosecution costs.

Watchdog

Prosecution counsel Christian Keeling said the aggravating factors were the phone companies' failures to deal with customer complaints in a timely and courteous manner.

Following an investigation by industry watchdog ComReg, Virgin Media Ireland and Meteor Mobile pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to charges under Section 45 of the Communications Act.

Virgin Media's seven charges were "legacy" issues as a result of taking over the UPC network, Judge O'Neill was told.

The court heard that customers were overcharged after getting special offers for TV, phone and internet packages.

Irish Independent

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