MABABF Guidance – Notification of Findings to Ofcom and the potential outcomes 

Category 1

A Category 1 finding can be raised against any clause of the 2017 Ofcom Metering and Billing Direction by an Approval Body (AB).  Approval Bodies are required as documented in the Direction, A1 Definitions and Interpretations, Category; Category 1, to do the following: 

All Category 1 matters for an existing Approval are to be reported by the AB to Ofcom. 

As a result of the Category 1 being reported, Ofcom may do one of the following: 

  • 1) Review the finding and take no action.  The AB will require the finding to be addressed, usually within 30 days. 
  • 2) Review the finding and conduct an informal investigation, then decide to take no action.  The AB will require the finding to be addressed, usually within 30 days. 
  • 3) Review the finding and conduct an informal investigation, then decide to launch a formal investigation.  The AB may be instructed by Ofcom not to pursue closure of the finding until their investigation is complete.  Alternatively, the AB may be instructed by Ofcom to require the finding to be closed, usually within 30 days. 

Extraordinary Performance Failure

The categorisation of Extraordinary Performance Failures (EPFs): there is a misunderstanding within the industry that all EPFs are categorised as Category 2 findings, this assumption incorrectly comes from the wording of Clause 4.8.3 of the Direction.  Ofcom have confirmed it is the responsibility of the AB to categorise EPFs, these will be categorised following the Definitions in Annex A1 of the Direction as Category 1, 2 or 3.  The basis for categorisation is by using the following four measures: 

  • How Many? How many customers/accounts were impacted by the metering/billing incident? 
  • How Much? What was the value of the overcharging/overbilling? 
  • How Long? For what period had the charging/billing incident occurred? 
  • How Long to Fix? How long did it take to credit customers, once the incident was identified? 

If a Regulated Provider (RP) has three Category 2 (or 1 and 2) EPFs within a 12-month rolling period, a full review, by the AB, of the TMBS shall take place to re-establish fitness for approval. (Clause 4.8.3). 

This full (end-to-end) review would not be conducted by the RP’s prime contact (Lead Auditor), but another member of the AB’s audit team.  The cost of this review is not factored into yearly contracts. 

The outcome of the review would be one of the following: 

  • 1) The AB recommends suspending approval pending withdrawal, the intention to withdraw is notified to Ofcom by the AB.  Ofcom is then likely to take one of the three actions identified under Category 1 findings above.  Ofcom may support the withdrawal as required by Clause 5.6.2 
  • 2) One or more Category 1 findings issued by the AB (Suspension not recommended), Category 1 notification process as above would apply. 
  • 3) One or more Category 2 findings issued by the AB, the normal Category 2 closure process would apply, the AB would specify the time for closure, usually no more than 60 days. 

The following should be noted: 

  • 1) The accumulation of Category 2 findings may result in a Category 1 finding being raised. 
  • 2) Ofcom guidance is that billing incidents that lead to an EPF should ensure that the recovery process, crediting customers is completed within 60 days of the RP identifying the incident, ABs may re-categorise EPFs if this 60 days is exceeded.