/ Technology

Have you been let down by Vodafone?

Vodafone store

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.

Improving service

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?


No. It’s drop in the ocean for Vodafone.

Rather disappointed at the punishment as we all know it’s the consumer who ends up paying. Should have struck off the directors instead/as well. And blaming a computer for doing what’s its been told to do is just laughable. That’s why you test and retest things to make sure the poor little computer has been told the right things to do. Sloppy IT governance.

Vodafone constantly cut me off and over charge me for services they don’t provide. Recently told to upgrade before transfer of owner ship because it was “wiser” to do the upgrade before changing owners name. Now having to send new phone back becaus they are unable to transfer ownership with the new phone on the contract and will only transfer ownership on sim only contract.. makes no sense someone wanted commission upselling that day so lied. Also I I have tried to cancel the contract within the given period but can’t cancel until the Jiffy bag is sent out to return the phone which convieniently takes 3-5 days! They need the phone to be back with them before enabling me to cancel within the 30 day period allowed. Funny how they can send something they are trying to sell next day but when you are trying to return the item you’ve been conned with back you have to wait. Can’t even return it to the shop. Absolutely disgusting service.

I’m afraid they’re all as bad as each other. I know, I have experience of all four and in fact Three is the worse.

The company can fix the admin systems but can it fix the mindset? Vodafone, at every level, has been presiding over a customer relationship that has been driven from a negative, hostile and accusatory standpoint with denial and a lack of respect for customers’ circumstances. Toxic is the modern word for it. The company cannot cleanse themselves of their ingrained attitudes overnight. Vodafone subscribers now also have to accept that some of their money is going to be given away to unspecified charities. Is that a penance, or just a way of making the company look half decent?

Couldn’t have put it better myself. The ‘fine’ is a joke to Vodafone even if it does go to a charity of some sort. The so called regulator needs to look at the senior management who preside over what is in fact dishonest, duplicitous behaviour . One could say it is very close to criminal behaviour.

No they just rip people off to pay it

Vodafone appear to be as bad as they were about 15 years ago when I ended my contract with them. they kept taking money out, refused to refund, ignored my letters, I took them to court, they didn’t turn up, I won. I then took a garnishee order and got one of their directors bank account frozen, that’s when they woke up and started to talk to me, they paid the debt which was now around £300, part of the money wasn’t paid to me in time so I went back to court and got them blacklisted. They then paid rest in full along with a letter asking that I was paid in full so they could lift the black list inside the month, I didn’t rush returning it.

Fines in most cases are easily paid or else the firm declares it is bankrupt and the fine is never paid A mandatory prison sentence for the directors or owners must be includes as well

So long as they pay for their accommodation, Bishbut, are genuinely deprived of their liberties and indulgences, and put something back into society during their stay in prison.

It is quite obvious that fines against multi-billion pound corporations will barely touch them and once their PR people have said a few apologetic words and put some spin on the company’s profile they are back to business as usual. Vodafone’s share price has hardly rippled following announcement of the Ofcom fine which shows the company will just shrug it off.

Every few weeks we have a conversation asking whether consumers’ trust in British business can be restored. I think the only thing that will affect these companies is a mass exit by customers, but with long contracts and switching complications these service providers have made themselves virtually untouchable. There has to be a way of knocking these people right off their pedestal for good. Personally I should like to see the top echelons hauled in front of a special committee for a public interrogation and stripped of their other directorships, positions of influence, and other privileges for a very long time.

We could do the same with any public officials who abuse their positions. Unfortunately bad behaviour seems to cross all society. Are we the only ones who are above reproach?

“Mass exit of customers”. If we feel strongly enough and have grounds, we can usually leave a business we don’t like – bank, retailer, amazon, insurer, energy or mobile provider….etc…..etc………..- at an appropriate time. The fact that many do not suggests that whatever they might say, they do not feel sufficiently outrage or cheated to bother. Perhaps we need a Consumers’ Union to act on behalf of those who are somewhat reticent in acting for themselves.

Being able to leave a poor company only works if there if there is a reasonable alternative. Someone has already mentioned that they have tried all the mobile network operators. Many recommend the smaller MVNOs that make use of the various networks but there can be complications, such as lack of a 4G service. That’s why I’m still with Vodafone.

When I took out a SIM-only contract with Vodafone they gave me a very good deal as a loyal customer. I had indeed been with them for years but never paid more than £15 per year my PAYG service. This year they insisted I paid full price and not let me have a 5GB data allowance as I had for the past two years unless I moved to a more expensive tariff. After reluctantly agreeing to the lower data allowance, the allowance changed to 5GB after two months.

On the positive side, Vodafone have never charged me a penny more than I expected.

The advantage of competition is there are other companies to move to – unlike the situation under nationalisation. I’ve moved energy companies purely to save money, insurance companies for the same reason. My mobile is with Tesco and I’ve had no reason to change. I will move to another food store if I’m badly dealt with, and my bank for the same reason, but so far no need. The point is we can move providers if we feel strongly enough. if we do not, what does that say?

I am in favour of competition too, Malcolm, but price is only one of the factors I look at. The PAYG mobile I keep in the car is on Tesco mobile, but unless things have changed, there is no signal inside my house. Tesco is one of the MVNOs I mentioned and I believe it currently uses the O2 network. I looked at moving to an MVNO that uses the Vodafone network, but they did not provide a 4G service.

I agree that of course price is only one factor, but for many it is an important one. The most powerful tool a consumer has is to vote with their feet. If enough do it the miscreant must change of fail. But rarely do we take this option. Am I in favour of “union” action (if we had a Consumers’ Union”)? Not really – such power can be misused.

The extent of dissatisfaction with the mobile service providers has been well discussed on Which? Convo. My first move was when One2One was taken over by T-Mobile and they doubled the call charges. Mobile phones and other devices that use the mobile networks are well on their way to being regarded as vital services and that has been acknowledged by government.

Last time I wanted to contact Vodafone they wanted me to use Live Chat, a peculiar wish for a company selling phones and services. 🙂 I see that contact numbers are once again prominently displayed on the website.

I’ve used Live Chat a few times with different companies and been pleasantly surprised at how well it works. Recently to get a discount on a car battery from an online seller to beat another, then with a major energy supplier to clear up a difficulty with an account. A quick connection and effective.

So have I but it depends on whether the matter is simple or complicated and how long you have to wait until it is your turn to get a response – which was the problem I experienced with Vodafone. I gave up and remembered I had their number on my phone.

Gail says:
27 October 2016

I love Vodafone have been a customer of theirs for 20+ years no complaints from me!

William says:
27 October 2016

My phone recently just stopped working after about 18 months. Took it in to Vodafone and they said it had to be sent away. I lost all my contacts etc etc. Then they wanted to charge me £78 for repairs. After emailing their executive I received a credit……..but was without a phone for 10 days and lost everything. No attempt to replace or to offer another phone – nothing.
AND the reception here is terrible.

Jossman says:
27 October 2016

I used to be a Vodafone customer for years. Their service was abysmal. They always had an excuse for poor connection which I think got worse over the years instead of better. They even sent be a letter saying I had 1p credit, how were they going to pay that? Saying that the 2or3% who have poor service through out the country is bigger than they say.

Overcharged for data I had never used. Took 3 long phone calls and shop visit to get refund. Some staff very unhelpful on phone. Thinking of leaving after being on vodaphone since before they took over ‘Mercury’.!


I have written two letters to Vodaphone asking for explanations. They haven’t even had the courtesy to acknowledge receipt of my letters. I am very, very cross. I will be writing to them again and send copies of letters to Ofcom.
Another very dissatisfied customer.

I have had problems with Vodafone and written a letter of complaint and threatening legal action – it was ignored. It is taken 5 calls and a loss of 1 month of Spotify premium for them to provide me with a free link not a chargeable link – I hope.

i have no complaints . besides my mobile phone i have broadband and landline with them and everything has been fine,

Yes i had a lot of trouble with Vodaphone when i got my upgrade. i recived my new phone on the Tuesday. So on Tuesday i went to the outlet to get all my address transferd over to my new one. They tould me i would be able to use my new phone the next day, but to no avail. It was two and a half weeks before i was conected, after about 20 calls to customer services. All i got was so sorry for what has gone on we will sort it to day , but still at the finish i said i would stop my direct debt by the Monday if i was not conected. Then things started to happen, i got online, they are a joke there customer services they dont have a clue.

yes am with Vodafone and there constantly cutting my phone off there’ve done it twice this week already am on a payment plan to pay my bill off and I have to keep constantly contacting them to complain about this I need my phone to be connected as my sister down South as secondary breast cancer and I don’t have no land line so I need my phone on to stay in touch with her! it’s so annoying must be the worst network going!!!! 😡😡😡😡

I transferred my pay as you go number to another provider and was told by a Vodafone representative that if I bought another SIM then my credit could be transferring to the new number. After I purchased the SIM Vodafone refused to transfer the credit

Watersider says:
27 October 2016

I had big problems with Vodafone when they changed accounting systems. I was effectively being billed out of both systems, but I only had visibility of the new and was getting extra direct debits from tbe old system.

Eventually I went to the ombudsman and the proposed solution was to cancel my contracts with them. This they agreed to.

I did have to return to Vodafone, being as it is the only mobile network with coverage in my office. Fortunately starting again with them has gone smoothly, so regardless of the size of fine, I believe Vodafone are trying very hard to address their problems.