/ 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?


I’ve been a Vodafone customer for the better part of a decade, up until my recent contract I was always satisfied, but they’ll be losing my business at the end of this agreement. Their customer service is terrible – I am being charged for not one, but two paper itemised bills per month (about £3.00 per month). I never requested these bills, have never received one, and have contacted customer services on about 15 occasions over the past eighteen months to cancel it. They will generally refund me, but I still get charged every month and it’s a hassle to ring them on a monthly basis. They always promise that it won’t happen next month. I can’t understand how something so simple hasn’t been fixed, and because of this I will be moving to one of their competitors.

Brenda says:
9 December 2016

I have been a customer of Vodafone for more than 20 years but the contract had been in my husband’s name. Foolishly I thought it would be simpler to change it to my name, big mistake! It took more than 3 months of store visits, web chats and hours upon hours of my time wasted on the help line to so many people in a variety of countries to finally sort out ownership and billing and access to My Vodafone. The main issue is that with each call you have to start from scratch, there is no ownership of the problem, although each operator promised they would sort it out but never did. Then you get passed around from one team to another as it is never the responsibility of the person you first speak to. Most annoyingly of all you can’t “escalate” the call as there is no manager to take responsibility and again although they promise someone will ring you back they never do. The customer service was just the most dire I have ever experienced and I would have gone to another company if it hadn’t been that I was only a few months into a new contract.

Very similar experience to many other vodafone customers. too numerous to detail all of it. Unfortunately we have poor reception from any other provider where we live so caught between a rock and a hard place. The latest is a new contract negotiated earlier this year and more money than agreed is taken every month. i have spent hours trying to get it corrected. i am passed from person to person repeating the problem only to be told they will listen to the original phone call, promised to be come back to, and hearing nothing. i have given up the will now. As a family we have 4 contracts with them so monthly cost is exceeding £100 (we’ve been with them for at least 15 years) . We live in hope that another provider will improve their reception here. Its outrageous that such a wealthy company can treat its loyal customers so appallingly.

Our switch of our two children’s numbers to a £32/month shared data Vodafone contract in March 2016 was a nightmare from beginning to end. One number didn’t port correctly so couldn’t receive phone calls or make/receive text messages. It took hours and hours and hours of calls and emails and live chat over three months, with staff promising to call me back and never doing so, before Vodafone sorted this out. At the time this issued was fixed, Vodafone somehow messed up the plan and switched the second number to a different plan with minimal data at a cost of £100/month. It then kept cutting off that number every time the data limit was reached and sending threatening text messages. We had to get a temporary SIM card from them to stop this happening. Despite further hours and hours and hours of calls and live chat, and many more empty promises from Vodafone staff, Vodafone still couldn’t sort it out and was billing me between £120 and £600 per month. Getting the Ombudsman involved made no difference. After receiving my fourth incorrect bill and my children receiving more threatening text messages, I simply couldn’t bear to deal with them any more. Eventually, with the Ombudsman’s help, I was able to terminate our contract with no penalty charges and Vodafone paid us £200 as a gesture of “goodwill”. As a parting gesture, it then sent me a bill for over £800. Absolutely appalling.

I’ve been waiting since the very start of my contract 18 months ago to get Vodafone to set up a Direct Debit, every month they threaten to cut me off for not paying my bill and every month I have to call them up to pay outstanding balance and ‘set up’ a new direct debit. I’ve tried using different banks so I know the problem is with them and recently I was out in the car with the kids using the phone for directions when they cut me off and I ended up getting lost.

I understand there was some teething problems with a new billing system but 18 months is a bit of a stretch, what makes it worse is that they never tell you the actual problem and promise to call you back and personally make sure it’s fixed, I have all the calls recorded for proof they never actually follow through with any of it though.

I’m not sure what’s worse, the fact they refuse to set it up and blame me, or the fact that I actually have to explain the WHOLE PROBLEM every month to someone else.

Imagine the movie Groundhog Day except it didn’t have Bill Murray and wasn’t funny, that’s my life with Vodafone.

kentish Mewhoor says:
17 December 2016

I bought a vodafone contract from mobiles.co.uk (part of carphonewarehouse). Everything went smooth but unfortunately, there is hardly any coverage in my work place. The work address is clapham, london. I was on 02 before and never has this issue. I spoke to vodafone and they mentioned to me that it is a known issue and they are working to fix it. After 3 contacts, they asked me to return the contract. I spoke to vodafone where their policy is 14 days and i went over it by few days due to the fact that vodafone technical team said to wait as they will fix it but never did. Carphonewarehouse said to me that vodafone will need to fix this. I spoke to vodafone again and after several hours and advisors, they have said that they cant d anything. This means leaving me with a service im paying and which vodafone cant deliver to me because of their technical problems. Stay away from vodafone.

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My first phone (analogue) was on Vodafone and I’ve always had excellent service and now their 4G service seems to be the best.

Tianna says:
12 February 2017

I havejust moved house and can only get mobile network in one room, standing near the window! Am I still eligible under this law because I am in a new home and not the one that I was in when I signed the contract?

The way the mobile phone companies market their services you would think it would be possible to connect to their networks almost everywhere, but the reports from numerous commenters on this site confirm that that is far from the reality. The place where you lived when you took out the contract should not be a limiting factor for a mobile telecom service since the whole purpose of having a mobile phone is to be able to it use wherever you are when you want make a phone call. Pretty elementary really, but the companies don’t seem to see it that way. I think in the first place you should contact your network provider and ask them to give you a signal or if not to allow you to cancel the contract because they refuse to provide you with adequate coverage. I don’t rate your chances too highly but it’s worth asking. If you have a landline connection you might have to use that for both incoming and outgoing calls but that could be more expensive and not a flexible enough service for your needs.

Calls to the emergency services are routed via other networks if the caller’s network does not provide coverage. The mobile networks could improve services for their customers if the same could be done for routine calls. No doubt they could bill each other to compensate for unequal sharing.

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I’m hoping that this is for a technical reason, Duncan. For many years the banks have shared ATMs for the benefit of all customers.

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Thanks Duncan. I never did understand the commercial world.

@Tianna – Your mobile operator should be able to provide a signal booster that will allow you to use the phone anywhere in the house. If you ask nicely you might get one free of charge – as some people have.

Duncan, it is not just you, I am not getting notifications either. I got the weekly scoop, but that is all from Which? since the 10th at 17:25.

Duncan, it is not just you, I am not getting notifications either. I got the weekly scoop, but that is all from Which? since the 10th at 17:25.

I selected” Email when someone replies to my comments” and got an internal error. So something is up.

But the first one still posted. Odd.

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As regular contributors you might find it useful to have a link to recent comments from your favourites toolbar or leave the homepage on periodic refresh so that you can see new comments as they arrive.

I have never used the e-mail facility as I prefer to keep my inbox empty.

You do get the whole email in your inbox, and sometimes in can be handy to glance through them rather than go through latest comments especially when mass moaning is taking place.

I was in the same position as Tianna when I moved home last year but before I moved from the Vodafone to EE network someone kindly erected a new mast and I have a fairly reasonable 4G service. There is hope. 🙂

I still have no signal in the village pub but I don’t spend a lot of time there.

Hi @alfa, I’m taking a look at this now. Are you only seeing this problem when trying to sign up for email notifications?

Hi @ldeitz,

Email notifications have stopped altogether with last one received on 10th Feb at 17:25.

I have unsubscribed from this convo (my previous reply disappeared so retyping…) and will select ’email me when someone replies to my comments on this conversation’………

Hi @ldeitz,

Email notifications have stopped altogether with last one received on 10th Feb at 17:25.

Having typed you a reply, I have just unsubscribed from this convo and tried to Post Comment.

My reply disappeared so am retyping….

Then selected ‘Email me when someone replies to my comments…) I got ‘Internal Server Error’ when I tried to Post Comment.

So I am editing this same reply that has not posted yet.

Selected ‘Please don’t email me’ and will Post Comment again.

When I did this yesterday, unselecting follow this convo…. then posting comment, 2 posts appeared.

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And the first reply has appeared from a black hole somewhere.
I did refresh page before retyping, so don’t know what happened to it !!!

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I think there are gremlins at work Duncan.

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This comment was removed at the request of the user

Tom B says:
18 February 2017

Had a mobile phone and mobile broadband on my Voda account… called and cancelled the mobile BB at the end of December 2016…

Needless to say voda cancelled the mobile phone instead (kicked in on Feb 15)- three days, six calls (one where voda’s system cut me off!), multiple (frankly useless) chat windows (their service is down more than up!) later the service is restored.

I did get told that I’d have to pay another month of mobile BB(!!!) – I indicated that was rather ridiculous and a credit has been promised for that!

Cringeworthy to put it mildly

Live in west London and work in the City. I am paying for a 4G service. At home the signal fluctuates between 4 bars and no service. Frequently (~1 in 10 calls) I get network busy en I try to make a call and about 1in 5 calls get dropped – the signal goes to no bars. In the City I get a 2.5G service most of he time. Clearly there is a capacity problem as well as there not being enough coverage. When will Ofcom deal with mobile phone companies not providing the service they sold?

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Stacey Collins says:
23 February 2017

I wish I’d never walked in off the street to ask for help. Twice I was signed up to SIM-only deal @£17pm and then £18pm but both times never got connected. The second time the agent actually snapped the sim in half and blamed the lack of connection on it. When I complained to Vodafone, online and by phone over several days, they say the contracts were actually immediately cancelled straight after they were placed – no connection would ever have ensued. They cannot connect you with the same deal either. Their best deal to match it costs £32pm! If you don’t want that deal, they say that you have to go back in to the same store (in my case travel i to London from Peterborough at a cost of £57.50 by train) and surrender your sim, and they will cancel the contract you were told they had already cancelled! They won’t unlock your phone to allow you to move providers for 30 days either, despite never having provided you with connection to their network at any point. I cannot wait to never hear, speak or see Vodafone again but I must trudge back to the shop first it seems.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited as it breached our Community Guidelines. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

Vodafone cut my sim off which was sent by phones direct over 6 years ago ( which is when I incidentally last made a payment ), never contacted me at previous address but as I used a postal address for electoral register last year are now being in undated with a barrage of debt collectors. When they cut the cell off, they let it update the data at their Mb rate everyday, so as time went on the phone ran a bill of about £260. If a sim is cut off on an android os it would not let me turn the updates off, so Vodafone are obviously to blame for not disabling the sim completely & further more the debt is a magical figure of over £1500.00. Is this because they got a steep tax fiddling fine last year & is a debt supposed to be wiped after a 6 year period plus phones direct are now defunct so they are trying to be wiseboys to this knowledge ?

Eray Morehouse says:
9 March 2017

ive had a nightmare with vodafone this year, mercenary billing, lack of coherent regulations, lazy shop workers making me travel when i shouldnt have too just because they couldnt be bothered to activate a simcard, being misled by comparison rhetoric that makes you think that vodafone message + is actually like whatsapp but actually charges you for mms messages and also after asking for their help in getting my bill lower at their suggestion i got a bill for 323 pounds 3 weeks later. they swear blind they cant cap call data at a certain level but i dont believe this at all, absolute joke.

A new scandal I had with Vodafone is data leak. Within less than 24 hours eight gigabites of data drained out of my system for no reason and without even using data for anything. Contacted Vodafone of course and as always I am the party at fault and then blamed iPhone hardware . Spoke with iPhone technical support they immediately dismissed the idea of iPhone hardware fault as reason for data leak and said network fault can possibly be the reason. Getting the PAC code was my final decision

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Steve says:
22 March 2017

I am using idea network and every time I my call is dropped due to low network but after installing Spymee Signal Booster device I am happy with the signals at my home. Just visit their website – http://www.spymee.in/signal-booster.html if you also have same problem.

Signed a new monthly contract with them in February 2017 for 24 months on a fixed monthly price.
Told March 2017 by text message that the monthly price was increasing by 3.2% which is in line with the
RRP apparently pushed onto Vodaphone by the government.
After a very arrogant sales person told me It states this in their terms and condition of sale which is by the way in unreadable small print, that it was nothing to do with Vodaphone and their customers has to accept the increase. This is a totally miss selling and misleading customers when they are told that this is fixed price contract for 24 months. The coverage has decreased over the past three years in my area so having been a loyal customer for 15 years to Vodaphone I intend to take this further with the Governing bodies.

Helen says:
25 March 2017

I’m in the same boat can you please post your outcome on here .



I am very unhappy with this company, the sales team make my upgrade sound so easy and that I would not see any different. First bill was treble the normal bill. I believe that I was with Vodafone, but somehow I was transfer to Onecom.
• billing problems;
• problems resulting from a company’s sales activity;
• problems resulting from switching from one company to another;
these are just some of the problem with this company

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Vodafone contacted me last year stating that I had gone over my data by 59 GB in a 6 hour period which I disputed and that I had to pay £1.5K by the end of that day or they would terminate my data. I’ve also been told that accruing that level over that period is physically impossible. Vodafone offered no help and did suspend my data (4 days after the alleged overuse) resulting me having to take out another contract with a competitor. I complained to customer services and the customer relations department. Nobody offered any assistance. I had to terminate my direct debit otherwise they would have removed the money. After months of chasing and writing letters of complaint but with no assistance I contacted the ombudsman who determined that I shouldn’t pay the data charges based on their breaches of customer service but that I should pay the service charges. The problem is that as a result of the error by Vodafone my previously excellent credit rating is now at a poor level. Also I dispute having to pay service charges after they terminated my data when they caused the error in the first place and I paid a high monthly level due to the importance of that data provision. I’m so appalled by what has happened, their lack of any assistance and the impact it has had on me. I wouldn’t recommend the company to anyone.

jo says:
19 May 2017

I said I wanted to cancel my contract three months early as i had found a bette deal through a direct company…first she badmouthed the company and there product then I was told it would cost £940 to cancel!!! When I asked for a detailed breakdown I was told a computer error had occurred and it was in fact £150… when I said I would contact the ombudsman she cut me off with a “is there anything else I can help with”… total rip off

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Can some one please help with any advice. I’m wondering if anyone has had the same problem. I am with vodaphone. When I got my new phone in September 2015 it had a faulty camera. I returned it and they fixed the problem and returned the phone to me. A few months after this I accidentally dropped my phone and it sustained damage that couldn’t be fixed. Thankfully I had vodaphone insurance and so they replaced my broken phone with a brand new one which is my current phone. Now that would have been about a year ago. In the last 3 months my phone has started to have problems with charging. It won’t hold its charge and shuts down randomly. Sometimes it overheats very quickly. I tried a brand new Samsung battery but that made no difference.
I contacted vodaphone to explain this. I was told that my phone was no longer in warranty and the only options were to buy a cheap phone to tide me over, pay to end my contract early or pay £175 to have it repaired.
I questioned why my phone had no warranty. It was only a year old. It clearly states on their website that all phones have a 2 year warranty except apple phones. Mines is a Samsung galaxy note. I was told that because I had my phone replaced I only get 3 months warranty. I argued that surley it should have the same manufacturer ‘s warranty as it was after all a brand new phone. Surley I should expect a new phone to last for a reasonable length of time? I am currently paying vodaphone £49 every month for a service and product I cannot use through no fault of my own.
They will not help in any way. Their advice stands at me buying a new phone……paying to end my contract early or paying them £175 to have it repaired.
Vodaphone insurance will have nothing to do with it either.
I am frustrated by their disgusting and infuriating customer service and distinct lack of morals! !

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