/ Money, Technology

Phoney excuses for Vodafone’s mobile price rise

Cartoon of character pointing to another

Who’s to blame for all these mobile phone price rises? If you’re to believe what some of you have heard from Vodafone reps, it’s Ofcom and the government’s fault. So what does Vodafone have to say for itself?

Quick recap – four mobile companies have increased their prices for customers locked into ‘fixed’ contracts. After more than 2,000 comments from angry customers here on Which? Conversation, it’s certainly an issue that’s stuck in my mind.

Vodafone’s the latest provider to pull a price rise out of the hat, but the excuses Vodafone’s customer service reps have apparently given when you’ve called to complain are a tad alarming.

Vodafone’s reasons for line rental price rise

When Which? Convo commenter ‘Disgruntled’ asked why the price of his contract was going up, he says he was told ‘that the government had instructed all the phone companies to increase the bills’.

Keith Brighton heard a similar story, but this time the blame was laid squarely on the regulator:

‘When I phoned Vodafone, I was told Ofcom told them to increase prices. This is clearly not true.’

The word ‘Ofcom’ was ringing in Paul’s ears after his call to another Vodafone rep:

‘I just phoned Vodafone about the price rises, and was told that Ofcom had ordered them to raise their prices. I thought there was a loss in translation, so I clarified it five times with the operator. Ofcom told them to raise their prices, and had told all mobile operators to do the same. I was staggered.’

I was staggered too after so many of your comments described Vodafone customer service reps blaming its price rise on Ofcom or the government.

We decided to get on the phones too; lo and behold we heard similar excuses. Vodafone customers here at Which? HQ were generally faced with vagueness about why the prices were going up, including excuses that it’s because all the other mobile providers are doing it, to the government and Ofcom making them do it. Anything but Vodafone’s fault it seems.

In truth, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard tall tales like this. When we went undercover into mobile phone shops, one assistant blamed the price rises on Ofcom too.

It was Vodafone’s decision to increase prices

When we took your comments to Vodafone, it told us:

‘Vodafone made the decision to change its line rental prices. This is not driven by Ofcom or the government. We’re very concerned to hear that some customers are being given this information and we are investigating.

‘The training given to staff clearly outlines that the 1 November line rental increase reflected rising costs within our own business and was below the rate of inflation. We always want to ensure that the information given to customers is accurate and we’ve already taken further steps to ensure that this is the case.’

So, hopefully that’s that then. Well, apart from the price rise itself. Make sure you complain to Vodafone – drive a hard bargain as you may be able to get compensation. And if you’re still not happy, make it clear that you’ll ‘vote with your feet’ and consider switching providers once your ‘fixed term’ ends. More power to you.

Oh, I almost forgot; it happens to be the one year anniversary of Vodafone’s last price rise on ‘fixed’ contracts, so if you’d like to wish them a happy anniversary on Facebook, please do by sharing our lovely card. Hopefully they’ll get the message.

Comments
Member

In reality the reason for the price rise is the simple fact that they can do it and get away with it. So ultimately it is Ofcoms fault for allowing them to raise prices as long as it less than the RPI during what is supposed to be a Fixed contract. I’m surprised that the ASA hasn’t jumped up and down on either/both for what is clearly a mis-use of the word Fixed ( OK , so I’m not that surprised ).

Member

We really do need Ofcom to intervene.

Member
Leanne says:
15 October 2012

Ok, so I enjoy price increases every bit as much as the next person (i.e. not at all), but please people let’s put this in perspective. Everything has been going up in price for some time now. Your weekly shop is now massively more expensive, it costs a lot more to fill up your car, and your fuel bills are consistently on the rise. All of these things have been going up at considerably more than the rate of increase we’re complaining about here. Why are we ok to pay so much more for everything else in our lives on the back of comments about rising costs, but when a mobile provider increases their pricing by a much smaller percentage, also on the basis of rising costs, it’s suddenly a scandalous rip off? I’m more annoyed that supermarkets have changed their 2 for £4 offers to 2 for £5 (a 25% price hike) than I am about paying 60p a month more on my phone bill. Ok, so I’m not in contract for my weekly shop, but their increases are going to cost me a great deal more than the £7.20 a year my mobile phone price increase will…

Member

The point is that the price rises are taking place after a customer has agreed to pay a certain amount per month. I don’t think you would be very happy if you did your shopping and got home to find that you had been charged more than the marked price.

The answer is for phone companies to stop offering contracts that include a ‘free’ phone. Then customers could end the contract at the end of the month if they did not like the rise in price. More importantly, we could start to deal with the growing ‘need’ to have the latest, greatest shiny toy.

Member

Or maybe the ASA shouldn’t let companies use words whose meaning is altered in the small print.

Companies are just using headline grabbing words and changing their meaning in the small print, that should be stopped.

e.g. Fixed not meaning the same as given in any dictionary or unlimited and I’m sure there are other examples.

Member

Hi Leanne, we do work on lots of the issues you talk about – many people’s bills are becoming unworkable, especially with energy price hikes: https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/britishgas-npower-price-rise-energy-bills/

The problem with the mobile provider’s price rises is that they’re putting up prices for people who are made to believe they’re on a fixed price. Not only that, but they’re locked in and can’t leave without paying a hefty fees. This doesn’t even exist with energy providers – when they put up their prices, cancellation fees are wavered as imposed by the regulator Ofgem: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/fixed-mobile-contracts-energy-price-rises/

Member

there is no chance ofcom or any other of…. will take this up – they dont do that.

another scam vodafone and others push at people going abroad – they will sell you a quadband phone .

in fact a uk dual band phone works in many places in the world ie europe, south africa, australia, NZ etc.

i have researched this – these places are on the same wavebands as we are in the uk — ie 900 and 1800.

its not rocket science.

my brother has been to s.africa and new zealand with his uk dual band phone.

these shops are getting people to buy new phones and probably new package deals by deception –fraud.

how about which? warning consumers about this?

Member
shlterry says:
21 November 2012

I got fobbed off by their customer service with “increase in VAT” and “inflation going around”. What a load of garbage. The increase in VAT to me more than covers any increase in VAT on costs to them. And inflation isn’t new. If you fix a contract, you allow for inflation as part of the deal. This is just rank profiteering. It really doesn’t matter that it’s only £1 a month to me, it’s the principle of the thing. I refuse to be their slowly-boiled frog and if enough of us complain to ofcom, hopefully they’ll do something.

Member
jean louis henaut says:
10 March 2013

i had a fixed contract for a year,when i tried to end my contract it was impossible to do so.customer service was appalling.they texted me to enter a number to end my contract,however this does not work on all phones so automatically i was back in their system,despite calling them back…no reply.and i expected to pay at a fixed rate and am now paying more than stipulated in the contract.corporate piracy,its enough!

Member

Vodafone very disappointed service
Copy of your recent chat with Vodafone online chat service team.
General Info
Chat start time Sep 14, 2015 9:07:48 AM EST
Chat end time Sep 14, 2015 11:54:35 AM EST
Duration (actual chatting time) 02:46:47
Operator Mr X
Chat Transcript
info: Welcome to Vodafone! You will now be connected with a service adviser. Your approximate wait time is 0 minute(s) and 47 seconds. . We’re looking forward to assisting you today.
info: You are now connected with Mr Y.
Mr Y: Hello, you are through to Mr Y, I will be investigating your complaint today, please can you let me know the details of your issue.
Mr Lucio : Sent: 14 September 2015 13:55 To: , Lucio Subject: Vodafone Complaints Hi Lucio, Sorry to hear you are experiencing issues with your mobile account. Please use the link below to make your complaint and one of our Vodafone Teams will contact you.http://www.vodafone.co.uk/vodafone-uk/forms/complaints/ Best regards. I cancel the contract in June an I still received bill. From the beginning I have network problem with my phone I change the sim card twice and the mobile once.
Mr Lucio : For many month I was not able to connect the mobile with the Vodafone network and was only used with Wi-Fi .
Mr Y: Hello, Lucio.
Mr Y: I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.
Mr Y: May I know if you are facing the network issue just at your post code or everywhere ?
Mr Lucio : I have take away the sim
Mr Lucio :
Mr Lucio :
Mr Lucio :
Mr Lucio :
Mr Lucio :
Mr Lucio :
Mr Lucio :
Mr Lucio :
Mr Lucio :
Mr Lucio : sorry
Mr Lucio : sorry
Mr Lucio : To cancel the contract I have spend one week in June and today I have spend 10 minute the fist call and after 30 minute on the second call they also promise to call me back.
Mr Lucio : Generally we use the mobile in *****.
Mr Y: I will check your account and help you with this.
Mr Y: Could you please let me know the first line of your address and post code along with your date of birth?
Mr Lucio : *****
Mr Lucio : *****
Mr Lucio : *****
Mr Lucio : My Mobile ******wok at *******
Mr Y: Perfect. Thank you.
Mr Y: Kindly bear with me while I check your account details. I appreciate your patience.
Mr Lucio : Mr Y can you please confirm that my mobile was not connected to the network for many months.
Mr Y: I am going through your account notes, Lucio. Please allow me a couple of minutes.
Mr Lucio : Vodafone connect to network when I cancel the contract.
Mr Lucio : Ok
Mr Y: Thank you for being online.
Mr Y: I checked your bills after the discussion with the Customer Relations team in June. It show me here that there was one call made to: ****** on 19th August, and prior to that the phone was used in the UK and in Italy in July and August.
Mr Lucio : Can you confirm that form many month the number was not connected to Vodafone network.
Mr Lucio : Vodafone connect after I cancel the contract
Mr Y: The number was active on Vodafone network as per the previous information shared. It was connected to Vodafone in July and August.
Mr Lucio : Please can you check the connection from January to June 2015
Mr Y: Yes, of course. I will check the earlier usage details for you.
Mr Lucio : Even you can see the trouble we have from the beginning .
Mr Lucio : my son just use the phone Wi-Fi for many month and just that become was not connected to Vodafone but I have paid all the bill…
Mr Lucio : I cancel the contract on June why is not yet cancel?
Mr Lucio : I have also cancel le direct debit and explaining all trouble that we have with this phone.
Mr Y: I checked the previous bill from January to June, 2015. There was little usage in January and February, then no usage from March to May, then one text was sent in June.
Mr Y: We had spoken with you in June for immediate cancellation of the contract.
Mr Y: You had issued a PAC for this number to be used with another service provider keeping the same number there.
Mr Y: It appears the PAC was not used for this phone.
Mr Y: The line has to be kept active for the other network to use the PAC. When you provide them the PAC, your line is automatically cancelled on Vodafone.
Mr Y: The line remained active as the PAC was not used.
Mr Lucio : We do not need to keep the number.
Mr Lucio : ******
Mr Lucio : What is the solution of this cancelection?
Mr Y: As per the discussion over the call and email, a PAC was used for this phone and it was to expire on : 12/07/2015.
Mr Y: Please allow me a moment to discuss with my supervisor regarding the cancellation of this phone.
Mr Lucio : I am very disappointed with the service you have provide. I have to contact the Ombudsman, the Which legal department or my colleague ***** Vodafone Service Co-Ordinator?
Mr Lucio : I was vey patient with this case and paid all the bill.
Mr Y: Lucio, I have discussed the case with my supervisor.
Mr Y: We checked the account and can see that a credit of : £55.99, and we had helped you with immediate cancellation on this phone. You had opted to keep the number with another service provider, and a PAC was issued.
Mr Y: In the email it was informed that the contract would continue to be active if the PAC was not used.
Mr Y: May I know the reason that you had not used the PAC for this phone ?
Mr Lucio : I do not need to keep the number.
Mr Y: Lucio, in that case, we can generate a new PAC for this phone.
Mr Y: After that, you can provide the PAC to the service provider of your choice.
Mr Y: As soon as you use the PAC, the number would be cancelled on Vodafone.
Mr Y: May I know if you’d like to issue a new PAC for this phone as the old PAC has expired now.
Mr Lucio : I believe a good will credit of this account will be the end of the matter. Certainly I will ask back all the rental period that the mobile was not connected to the network.
Mr Lucio : I do not need to keep the number. Please cancel the account.
Mr Y: We can help you with the cancellation of the contract by accepting a 30-days notice of cancellation.
Mr Y: May I connect you with our disconnections team to schedule this account for cancellation right away ?
Mr Lucio : can you credit all this account?
Mr Lucio : Please is over 30 minutes Please cancel the account.
Mr Lucio : I have cancel in June
Mr Lucio : And was accepted.
Mr Lucio : I do not need to keep the number
Mr Y: We had issued the PAC then as per the agreement over the call and over the email sent to you, Lucio.
Mr Y: There was usage on your phone in Italy, so I won’t be able to waive off entire bill.
Mr Y: I can only offer you one-month’s rental waiver on this account.
Mr Y: Please let me know if you accept it, I will then connect you with the disconnection to cancel the account.
Mr Lucio : I have paid already far too much for a service that in over 2 years work only about 10 month an the other time was not connected to your network.
Mr Lucio : can we stop in a friendly way and cancel the A/c I work at ***** and I was not consider all this trouble.
Mr Y: I’m sorry, Lucio, but as there was usage on the account, I won’t be able to waive off the full rental on this account.
Mr Lucio : I have to reconsider to contact our Vodafone coordinator regarding this matter.
Mr Lucio : How much I have to pay?
Mr Lucio : It is easy to cancel and just regarding to a bad experience and stop there.
Mr Y: The total balance on your account is: £107.29. The last month’s bill was for: £35.17. In the bill prior to that, it was: £66.13
Mr Lucio : Vodafone Have not look after me properly. I do not like to inform other about this matter. I do not have the time to do all that and do not push me in that direction.
Mr Lucio : there are no consideration of credit for no service from Vodafone and you have not show any credit about.
Mr Y: I discussed the case with my supervisor, we can offer you the last month’s waiver. You will have to make the remaining payment for the account.
Mr Y: If you agree to that, we will also cancel the contract on immediate basis.
Mr Y: The total bill after the last month’s waiver would come to: £72.12.
Mr Lucio : What will be the final bill.
Mr Lucio : I will contact third party and let you know about the matter.
Mr Lucio : Very disappointed after so many months of no service.
Mr Y: The billing cycle continues to remain active on the account till the number is deactivated. The amount I informed you is for today.
Mr Y: I am really sorry for the services, Lucio.
Mr Y: As I informed you above, we had already agreed to clear all dues on account and offered to cancel the contract on immediate basis.
Mr Y: However, as the PAC was issued, which was not used, the line was active.
Mr Y: Once you make the payment, your line would be immediately cancelled.
Mr Y: You won’t have to contact us after that.
Mr Lucio : I cancel on June why is still active? Why Vodafone haven’t credit any bill for not connection to the network
Mr Lucio : how much I have to pay at the end of September as for the last bill?
Mr Lucio : I hope that the account was cancel for the credit due to me do no service.
Mr Y: One final bill will be generated after the account is cancelled. This would be generated on pro-rata basis ( number of days it was active in the current billing cycle).
Mr Y: This would also come with the waiver of the last month’s rental.
Mr Lucio : the maximum amount I am prepare to pay a good will is £30 at the end of the month.
Mr Y: I’m sorry, but we cannot accept that as the final payment as there was around £35.13 of usage charges on the August bill.
Mr Lucio : I cancel this account in June as was not connected. You haven’t credit any penny. The service was not connected. We canceled the sim card twice e and the mobile in the beginning,
Mr Lucio : OK I WILL PAY £35.13 AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER. PLEASE SEND THE FINAL BILLE TO MY HOME ADDRESS.
Mr Y: I’m sorry, Lucio, but we cannot accept that as the final bill.
Mr Y: If you are not happy with the resolution we can escalate this to my supervisor for you.
Mr Lucio : ******I will send copy of our conversation to Which legal department, to my colleague Vodafone service Coordinator and the Ombudsman regarding months of no connection to the network.
Mr Lucio : I am not happy with the resolution.
Mr Lucio : Please let me speak with the supervisor
Mr Lucio : many thanks.
Mr Y: Thank you. Please allow me a moment to discuss the case before connecting you with them.
Mr Lucio : Anybody there
Mr Y: Yes, Lucio. The supervisor is a bit busy.
Mr Y: I’m sorry for the delay.
Mr Lucio : Now is about one hour an 1/2 try to sort out his cancellation.
Mr Lucio : My mobile ***** work number ****
Mr Lucio : ******
Mr Lucio : I Have a meeting at 4pm
Mr Y: Please stay connected. I am transferring this chat now.
info: Please wait while I transfer the chat to the appropriate group.
info: You are now connected with Mr X.
Mr Lucio : *******
Mr X: Hello, you are through to Mr X. I am the Escalation Desk Supervisor and will help you with your query today. Please stay connected while I review your chat with the previous representative.
Mr Lucio : I cancel the contract in June as we have many problem with the network connection. In June was connected!??!?
Mr X: Hello Lucio.
Mr Lucio : I have a meeting at 4 pm.
Mr X: Just went through the details of your chat and as I can see it’s about the recent bill that is generated on your account. You are saying that you will pay the usage charge but won’t pay anything towards rental.
Mr X: This because you cancelled the line in June.
Mr X: Did I get that right?
Mr Lucio : The mobile was always loosing the network Vodafone connection for the beginning of the contract and I do not understood why. I cancel in June.
Mr Lucio : I suppose to receive some credit about no service.
Mr Lucio : I am prepare to pay £30 at the end of the month to final bill.
Mr X: Lucio, I understand that you were facing network. We are not denying that. Based on the same we have provided you an option to cancel the line in June (like you say).
Mr X: PAC (porting authorisation code) was provided to you here. You’ve not used the PAC and that is the reason your line is still active.
Mr X: Further to that you have been using the line which means you are aware that you’ve not cancelled it. So, I don’t understand there a demand not paying the rental for the time you are yourself confirming that you are using line.
Mr Lucio : I will try to contact out Vodafone coordinator to help with this matter.
Mr X: Could you please explain as to why we shouldn’t charge you for the rental for the duration you’ve used the line?
Mr Lucio : because the mobile was not connected to the Vodafone network for many months.
Mr Lucio : they connect when I cancel the contract.
Mr X: Agreed. However, did you not ask for PAC there?
Mr Lucio : no I do not need that number.
Mr Lucio : The mobile generally work only with Wi-Fi
Mr Lucio : I have a meeting at 4pm
Mr X: Hello Mr. ,
Mr X: Thank you for your time over the call today.
Mr X: We are really sorry and apologise for all the inconvenience caused to you in order to fix your issue. We will definitely pass you valuable feedback to the relevant department.
Mr X: As per our discussion, you need to cancel the Vodafone contract and keep the same number with another service provider. I have explained about the cancellation procedure and generated PAC code for your mobile number *****.
Mr X: Please note: the PAC code is ***** and expires on 12/07/2015. You will need to use this PAC code with another service provider before the expiry date. Once you will use the PAC code; your Vodafone account will automatically cancelled. You will get final bill as per normal billing cycle after the cancellation. If you will not use the PAC code before 12/07/2015; then the Vodafone account will remain active and you will be charged as per the standard line rental. Once the PAC code is expired, then you will need to ask for another PAC code.
Mr X: As per my promise, I have credited £30.99 against the current month bill and £25.00 due to inconvenience caused to you in this matter. Currently there is a credit balance of £25.01 on your account.
Mr X: I trust the above information helps.
Mr X: Regards,
Mr X: ******
Mr X: Please refer to above and let me know whether you’ve asked for PAC or not and if you were not informed that if you don’t use PAC, line will remain active.
Mr X: It was done all with your consent.
Mr Lucio : I cancel the meeting to sot out this matter.
Mr Lucio : I haven’t ask for the PAC I do not need the number.
Mr Lucio : What is the end of the matter?
Mr X: The end of the matter is that the bill is valid and you need to pay all the charges.
Mr X: Is there anything else I can do for you today?
Mr Lucio : What is the final bill?
Mr Lucio : I will dispute the service bill.
Mr Lucio : I also prepare to compromise about the final bile can you make an offer?
Mr X: I am sorry. Compromise what?
Mr X: It is clear that you were aware that the line is active as you are using it and so the bill is valid. You need to pay it.
Mr Lucio : No I have cancel the contract in June.
Mr X: Okay. So, please explain this to me how were you using your line and incurred all these charges?
Mr Lucio : From June Vodafone connected to the network but for many months was not connected.
Mr X: You had discussion about your case with our Customer Relations team and I have just pasted you the final resolution that you had agreed and provided your consent to. You were clearly told that in case of PAC, if you don’t use it line remains active.
Mr X: Further you can’t deny of knowing that your line was working as you’ve been using it there.
Mr X: So, on what basis do you feel that the rental is invalid?
Mr Lucio : was not connected for many months to Vodafone network as you can see in the history.
Mr Lucio : I will contact my colleague and try to solve this matter.
Mr X: Agree to what you say. I never denied that you had network issues there earlier and the resolution that was provided in June was for the same where we credited your account for the agreed amount and also provided you PAC as you wanted to leave Vodafone.
Mr Lucio : What I have to do?
Mr Lucio : thanks.
Mr X: It is right there documented on your account that you agreed with this solution and it is done all with your consent. Now, that you’ve decided not to use the PAC and used the service, you can deny too pay for them.
Mr X: Does that make sense?
Mr Lucio : I consider that the contract was cancel.
Mr Lucio : I haven’t understood regarding the use of PAC.
Mr Lucio : We are going in a catch 22.
Mr X: I appreciate your view. However, the fact remains same that your contract was active and you are aware of it. About not understanding PAC, Customer Relations team has provided you a clear information on how the PAC works as well as what was the solution you agreed and provided you consent too in written in email.
Mr X: So, it is there well documented on your account.
Mr X: Putting that into place you need to pay the bill that is generated on the account.
Mr X: Let me know if there is anything else I may help.
Mr Lucio : I will ask for help and dispute the matter. can you tell me the final amount that I have to pay less the credit.
Mr Lucio : I am working for ***** and I will contact my Vodafone Service coordinator to help in this matter to close in a good way.
Mr Lucio : Ofcom has published its latest round of complaints figures and it’s bad news once again for Vodafone. According to the figures, which cover the three-month period from January to March 2015, Vodafone generated the highest rate of customer complaints to the regulator. Ofcom’s data showed that it received 0.14 complaints per 1,000 Vodafone customers – 75% above the industry average (0.08 complaints per 1,000 customers).
Mr Lucio : Vodafone is the UK’s most complained about mobile provider By Mike Plant on 03/07/2015 • ( 1 comment )
Mr Lucio : Can we finalize the matter?
Mr X: I appreciate your views about Vodafone customer services. Also if you may want to take it further to Ofcom, you can surely do so. As a customer it’s well within your right. No one can stop you doing that.
Mr X: I have already provided you my answer above that no credits will be done. Also, I will need to revoke the credit that my advisor had offered you there as I do not see any clear reason why we should remove any charges there when you knew that your line is active and it’s all done with your consent.
Mr X: You will be paying the entire bill amount as it’s there on the account.
Mr X: The only thing that I can do is that if you want I can raise a request to cancel your line now. This would be for once and all.
Mr X: Let me know if I shall go ahead and raise request to cancel your contract now.
Mr Lucio : Please cancel the line. I have already cancel in June why I have to cancel aging?.
Mr Lucio : I cancel the contract in June why this new request.
Mr X: I am sorry but as we already established in June with your consent we had provided you PAC. You’ve not used the PAC and that is the reason the line had not been cancelled yet. I have provided you a copy of email in this chat that customer relations team worked out with your clear consent.
Mr X: Sure, I will raise the request for cancellation.
Mr X: Let me know if there is anything else I may help.
Mr Lucio : Thank you. I will ash for father advise as I not happy with the outcome. many thanks
Mr X: Sure, if you want you can take a further advise on this matter. Also, just for your information, we have an internal escalation procedure following which my advisor had escalated your chat to me. If you want to follow this procedure further, I can escalate it to next level wherein one of my senior will call you in 48 hours.
Mr X: Would you like me to raise this request?
Mr Lucio : Yes. Many thanks. Mr Lucio
Mr X: Okay. Your number will be cancelled. So, would there be any alternate number that they can reach you?

[This comment has been edited. Please don’t include personal contact details. Thanks, mods.]