After a Vodafone mistake, a member had to battle to get their phone and broadband reinstated. We explain how Which? Computing was able to step in and help.
When Which? member Stephanie had their phone and broadband cut by Vodafone by mistake, it was the start of a saga that saw them lose internet access on and off for weeks, and lose the number she’d had for 35 years.
The mistake happened after Stephanie’s neighbour, who lives at the same address with a different number, switched to Vodafone’s broadband.
But instead of cutting the line of its new customers, it was Stephanie’s that got the chop after the mix-up.
So, how do you resolve a problem caused by an ISP when you’re not even a customer?
While Sky was able to restore Stephanie’s connection, it couldn’t recover the number, and was unable to make successful contact with Vodafone to stop and reverse the takeover.
£94 out of pocket
Two attempts were made to recover the number, but each time this left Stephanie without internet access for 14 days. She had to buy an EE 4G wi-fi dongle to cover the outage, leaving her £94 out of pocket.
With the issue seemingly at a dead end, Stephanie was resigned to having to tell all their friends and family that the number had changed.
She attempted to claim compensation from Vodafone, but were told that the fault was caused by a ‘third party’, so it would not compensate her.
Stephanie complained via Ofcom and the Communication Ombudsman, but both proved to be dead ends.
With nowhere left to turn, Stephanie contacted Which? Member Services, and our Computing team took on the case.
Which? Computing steps in
When we contacted both Sky and Vodafone to find out why her case had been dealt with in this manner, Vodafone apologised and offered Stephanie £150 in compensation, which she accepted. It said:
“We are very sorry that Stephanie had her broadband connection cut in error. It’s clear that the source of the problem was an incorrect address submitted for their neighbour’s broadband order. There are provisions in place to prevent such mistakes from affecting a household’s broadband, and we do apologise for the inconvenience caused.”
We’re pleased that the company finally saw the errors of its ways and provided a compensation payment that works out to £66 for the inconvenience.
What is ‘line slamming’?
Erroneously taking over a phone line is known as ‘line slamming’, a practice that Ofcom is very strongly against.
Indeed, the watchdog states that any attempt to take over a line should be preceded by a letter from your current broadband provider warning you of the change. In this case, Stephanie believes no such letter ever arrived, so her silence was taken as consent and the line was cut.
Unlike normal cases of line slamming, where an internet service provider deliberately takes over a connection, Vodafone’s actions are as a result of an error.
But the end result is the same, compounded by the loss of Stephanie and William’s phone number.
This contribution to Which? Conversation first appeared in the April 2019 edition of Which? Computing (page 63 – Working for you).
Have you ever experienced line slamming? Has a broadband or phone company failed to deal with a similar complaint?