In the news this week, EE and Virgin Media have both been fined millions of pounds by Ofcom. Meanwhile, the number of people missing in California has risen dramatically in the last couple of days as the wild fires continue to spread.
EE and Virgin Media Fined
Telecommunication companies EE and Virgin Media have been fined the sum of £13.3 million by Ofcom, the telecoms regulator. EE have been charged with overcharging 400,000 customers, with Virgin Media overcharging 82,000 customers.
Telecommunication companies can charge customers who want to switch to another provider before the end of their contract, however, the rules and charges must be clear and indicated in the initial contract. Ofcom’s investigation revealed that EE’s customers overpaid up to £4.3m, whilst Virgin Media customers overpaid just under £2.8m.
The director of investigations and enforcement at Ofcom, Gaucho Rasmussen said:
“EE and Virgin Media broke our rules by overcharging people who ended their contracts early. Those people were left out of pocket, and the charges amounted to millions of pounds. […] That is unacceptable. These fines send a clear message to all phone and broadband firms that they must play by the rules, in the interests of their customers.”
Some EE customers are still waiting to be reimbursed for this payment, with Ofcom confirming that £1.6 of the total £4.3 have been repaid yet. However, both companies have agreed to change their policies and terms and reduce termination charges, an EE spokesperson declared:
“We’ve already refunded customers and changed the way we calculate early termination charges, and we will continue to focus on ensuring our policies are clear and fair for all customers.”
This type of action by telephone and broadband providers constrains the freedom of customers to change services and operators whenever they want to, which is against the rules.
The number of missing increases dramatically in the Californian wildfires
The number of people declared missing in the California wild fires has reached more than 600. These wildfires are by far the most destructive and deadly in the state of California, with 63 people confirmed dead, and more than 12,000 buildings destroyed.
The authorities attribute these numerous losses and damages to the speed at which the fire gained ground, heading straight for a town of 27,000 inhabitants called Paradise. The town will now need a “total rebuilt” job that might take several years.
More than 52,000 people had to evacuate and because of the poor and overcrowded evacuation routes, the cars have often been abandoned, with people evacuating on foot. More than 9,000 firefighters from all over the country fight against the flames every day, trying to keep them from gaining more ground. For the moment 40% of the Camp Fire has been contained but has reached a total area of 57,000 hectares.
Investigations are still ongoing to identify all the possible origins of the blazes. It is however clear that the climate conditions in California with a dry ground and warm winds have allowed these flames to develop faster.