Thursday 27 October 2016

Vodafone Now Facing a Huge Amount Of Fine


Telecom Operator Vodafone has been hit by a £4.6 million fine after being found guilty of failing to ensure its customers were kept online.

The operator was punished by UK regulator Ofcom after failing to process top-ups made by customers on Pay As You Go (PAYG) contracts, leaving them unable to make calls or send messages on their phones.

But Vodafone was also punished for failing to ensure its customer service staff were trained to properly handle user complaints or settle disputes.

In total, Ofcom delivered a £4.6 million fine to Vodafone for the two transgressions, which the company now has 20 days to pay.

£3.7 million of this came from the PAYG failure, which saw 10,452 pay-as-you-go (PAYG) customers missing out on £150,000 in credit between December 2013 and April 2015.

The issue affected users attempting to use so-called "E Top-Up" methods, which use the likes of cash machines, direct debits and swipe cars to top up a user's account.

The fault appeared to stem from Vodafone changing its internal billing system back in 2010, leading Ofcom to conclude that the company "failed to act quickly enough" to address the problem, and that it only stopped "customers from paying money for nothing" after it intervened.

Affected users who then contacted Vodafone's customer service helplines could then have faced dealing with untrained staff who lacked the proper information to correctly identify complaints.

Labelling Vodafone's practices as "insufficient" to deal with and escalate complaints "in a fair, timely manner." Ofcom penalised the company for not telling customers about their right to take complaints to a third-party resolution scheme after eight weeks, and issued a separate £925,000 fine.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom Consumer Group Director, said that Vodafone's failings were "serious and unacceptable", and that she hoped the fines would, "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. We will not hesitate to investigate and fine those who break the rules.”

Vodafone has apologised and reimbursed customers, along with making a £100,000 donation to charity.

The company offered its "profound apologies" to customers, saying it "deeply regrets" the system and process failures uncovered by Ofcom.

A company spokesperson said, "At various points a small proportion of customer accounts were incorrectly migrated, leading to mistakes in the customer billing data and price plan records stored on the new system."

"Those errors led to a range of problems for the customers affected which - in turn - led to a sharp increase in the volume of customer complaints."



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