The UK regulator Ofcom has announced that they will be fining Vodafone a total of £4.6m for a number of breaches in consumer protection rules.
They said that they company had misled pay-as-you-go customers, and they have been charging them for top-up credit but providing nothing in return, they also said that they had broken the rules on handling customer complaints.
Vodafone offered its “profound apologies” for the failures and said that it was “determined to put everything right”.
This fine comes after Ofcom has previously investigated Vodafone on two separate occasions, one of which found that 10,452 pay-as-you-go customers lost out when Vodafone failed to credit their accounts after they paid to top up their mobile phone credit, with affected customers collectively losing £150,000 over a 17-month period according to Ofcom.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom Consumer Group director, said the following about it:
“Vodafone’s failings were serious and unacceptable, and these fines send a clear warning to all telecoms companies.
“Phone services are a vital part of people’s lives, and we expect all customers to be treated fairly and in good faith.”
Thye say that this was due to IT issues that were linked to the move to a new billing system. Ofcom said that Vodafone “failed to act quickly enough to identify or address these problems” and they only moved to fix the issue after Ofcom intervened.
The second investigation found that Vodafone’s customer service agents were not given sufficiently clear guidance on what constituted a customer complaint, with some complaints being left unhandled in a fair or timely manner according to Ofcom.
Ofcom also said that Vodafone failed to ensure customers were told about their right to take an unresolved complaint to a third-party resolution scheme after eight weeks.
In a response to this, Vodafone said that it had “fully refunded or re-credited” 10,422 PAYG customers out of the 10,452 affected, stating that it was unable to track down the remaining 30.
They explained more with the following statement:
“Everyone who works for us is expected to do their utmost to meet our customers’ needs.”
“It is clear from Ofcom’s findings that we did not do that often enough or well enough on a number of occasions. We offer our profound apologies to anyone affected by these errors.”