Vodafone has been handed a hefty £4,625,000 fine by Ofcom for serious and sustained breaches of consumer protection rules or mis-selling, billing blunders and poor complaints handling. Is this fine enough to earn back your trust for such failings?
Some of you may recall that this news comes only a few months after Vodafone hit the headlines after thousands of customers were hit by billing blunders. Well, today’s announcement from Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, comes following two investigations into Vodafone.
One investigation found that pay as you go customers lost out because Vodafone failed to credit their accounts after they topped up their mobiles.This blunder cost 10,452 customers a total of £150,000 over a 17 month period. The second investigation found that Vodafone had failed to comply with customer complaints handling rules.
Vodafone customer service
Back in June it came to light that thousands of Vodafone customers had been hit by a series of billing errors following changes to Vodafone’s billing and services systems.
On Which? Conversation, we heard from Vodafone customers such as KDMT, who told us about their frustration:
‘I’ve been overcharged, mischarged and everything in between. The latest was me responding to their offer to increase my data allowance and finding a charged for £688 on my bill that no one could explain or would deal with. They took it from my bank account, forcing me to cancel my direct debit. The hours I’ve spend online, on calls and writing letters for this and other issues is ridiculous (incorrectly being told I had 2 entertainment packages under a different tariff but being charged different amounts every month for 6 months). If any other provider covered my Glen, I’d switch in a heartbeat!!’
Vodafone has responded to Ofcom’s fine. Once again, the blame has been pinned on the migration of customer data to new systems. The company has offered its ‘profound apologies’ and said it’s ‘determined to put everything right’.
The telecoms giant has refunded or re-credited 10,422 of the affected 10,452 – but conceded that it’s unable to track down the remaining 30 customers. To make up for that gap it’s donated £100,000 to various charities in the UK as it has ‘no intention of profiting from this issue in any way’.
Also, Vodafone claims that IT issues are now resolved and that Ofcom has said it’s satisfied that this can’t happen again with the new IT system in place.
But, Vodafone doesn’t have a great history of customer service – in the last Which? mobile satisfaction survey Vodafone scored only 49% and was joint second bottom of the table alongside EE.
In fact, Ofcom data also shows that Vodafone attracts huge levels of complaints. According to the latest Ofcom complaints data Vodafone is the most complained about mobile provider with 23 complaints per 100,000, followed by Talk Mobile with 8 complaints per 100,0000.
This isn’t a ringing endorsement for a telecoms company considering the Which? Consumer Insight score for the industry is already pretty low, with only 38% of people saying they trust mobile phone providers.
If you have a problem with your mobile phone provider or feel let down by its service then you should first complain directly to the phone company to try to fix the issue. If that fails then our guide to complaining about your mobile phone provider can take you through the steps needed to escalate your complaint.
Do you think Vodafone customers should expect more? Is a fine enough of a penalty to ensure service is improved?