O2 may be in for a spot of bother after it has emerged that they may be charging some customers VAT twice on the sale of new iPhone 5 handsets.
Know Your Mobile noted the issue when they were approached by Twitter user David Hill (@iamdavidhill). The designer thought he’d stumbled onto a bargain when he found the 32GB iPhone 5 listed for £299.99 on a £26pm tariff.
With no mention of VAT anywhere listed on either O2’s consumer or business contract pages, Hill went ahead and placed his order.
However, when it arrived, his bill stated that the iPhone 5 cost him £359.99, seemingly taking into account the missing VAT. Feeling misled, Hill contacted O2, who responded on Twitter stating that the prices on their website, including the £299.99 32GB iPhone 5, are “fully inclusive of VAT”.
With the added charge placed upon Hill’s bill, those that mean O2 are charging their customers twice for VAT, if the listed lower price is already inclusive of VAT.
To be fair, this is obviously a listing error on O2’s behalf; clearly their initial listing should have made it more obvious that a VAT charge would be incurred. But with their social media channels standing their ground in the wake of consumer concerns, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that a double charge has been made.
Responding to Know Your Mobile’s questioning, an O2 spokesperson stated:
“We would never intentionally mislead anyone on our prices and we apologise if there has been any confusion on exVAT pricing on our website. We are looking into what we need to do to make this clear for customers.”
How O2 take this forward will be interesting; with the listing page still showing the same misleading pricing info, it’s quite possible that David Hill isn’t the only person to have been stung by a larger bill than was expected. Hill may well be £60 out of pocket, but so too may many other consumers. O2 will have to tread carefully unless they want to set a precedent of offering a £60 refund to all those affected, which could tot up to a fairly sizeable sum.
By Gerald Lynch | October 17th, 2012