Half a million T-Mobile customers charged for 'ghost' calls never made
T-Mobile has admitted to Bitterwallet that hundreds of thousands of customers have been wrongly charged for 'ghost' calls during March and April. The error, which was discovered by Bitterwallet readers when they received itemised bills for phone calls they never made, means the mobile phone operator could have overcharged UK customers to the tune of several hundred thousand pounds.
T-Mobile has now apologised and promised to repay customers for the phantom charges, which were caused by a technical issue with call forwarding.
The problem was first brought to our attention last week by Bitterwallet reader Justin, who was charged for two individual calls to mobile numbers. Justin noticed the calls because both should have been included in his inclusive minutes but instead appeared as itemised charges of 26 pence each. One call, to a disconnected number lasted 39 seconds. Neither number appeared on the call log of Justin's handset.
Since then, several other readers have confirmed they have also been billed for calls they never made; in some cases T-Mobile representatives told them the issue had already been investigated and that they would be refunded. Bitterwallet has now spoken with a T-Mobile spokesperson who confirmed the issue affected customers between 31st March and 28th April. T-Mobile says it was only UK customers on T-Mobile tariffs that were affected - Orange customers did not receive the spurious charges.
A T-Mobile spokesperson told Bitterwallet:
"We know that a minority of our customers have incurred small but unexpected additional charges to their accounts in recent weeks. This error is the result of a glitch in our billing systems which meant that some T-Mobile customers wrongly received call forwarding charges when they used their voicemail. This charge was on average 26p, although it varies depending on the individual's price plan.
“This problem has now been fixed. We'll be fully refunding every customer affected by this, a process which has already begun. We're really sorry and wholeheartedly apologise to any customers who have been affected by this issue."
We asked T-Mobile for clarification on how small the 'minority' of affected customers was; a spokesperson told us it was 'less then 4%'. T-Mobile is thought to have around 13 million mobile subscribers in the UK, meaning up to 520,000 customers have been charged at least once for phone calls they didn't make.
T-Mobile also clarified the nature of the error:
"A small number of voicemails caused a call forwarding charge to be passed onto the receiver of the call. This occurred when these customers received a call that they did not pick up and it diverted to voicemail.
"On itemised paper bills, these charges will show as "divert" or "partner call" on the individual's bill in the "call charges outside of allowance" section and on summary bills and online bills, these calls would appear as unfamiliar numbers (which may be different to one another)."
Customers affected by the problem should expect to receive the appropriate credit on their next bill.