The investigation by MoneySavingExpert has gathered data from Ofcom and Resolver.co.uk to reveal the extent of the trouble at Vodafone. They show that three times as many complaints have gone to Ofcom about Vodafone than any other network. Meanwhile, our own figures at Resolver show that twice have many people have been complaining about Vodafone problems than any other telecoms firm.
But what does this mean for Vodafone’s 20 million customers in the UK, and what can you do if you discover there’s been an issue with your account?
The reason behind the problem
Vodafone says the problems stem from switching both their customer service and billing platforms to a new system. This was completed by the tail end of last year, but by Vodafone’s own admission was “a highly ambitious and complex programme” and that “the impact of running an IT and a contact centre transformation in parallel was underestimated”.
So what’s gone wrong?
Common issues we’ve seen include payments being taken after contracts have been cancelled, being charged for items or services more than once, and direct debits being set up incorrectly or on the wrong tariff.
Check your bill – Make sure your tariff, charges and data allowance on your bill tally with the contract you originally took out. An easy way to find out this is to check the email confirmation you’ll almost certainly receive when you first signed up to the contract. And do so for all bills going back for the past 12 months, as Vodafone did not complete its systems switchover until the end of 2015.
Check your bank statements – Even if your bill is right, the money going out of your account may be wrong as Vodafone’s system glitches can set up direct debits incorrectly. They could be too large, too small, or even be going out twice in a month. Make doubly sure your bill and your bank accounts tally.
Check your credit score – If Vodafone has wrongly recorded a payment as missed or late, this could affect your credit rating.
Since phone contracts are a type of credit, your network provides reports for your credit file. So if Vodafone has made a mistake that means credit agencies and debt collectors have to take action, your credit score may well take a hit.
This can make it difficult when applying for certain mortgages, loans, and credit cards. It’s not an easy issue to address, either, but if it’s stopped you from getting a mortgage (for example), the cost to you could obviously be significant.
If you’ve been overcharged, you should get back any extra, plus any other costs you suffered directly from Vodafone’s mistake. Basically… they should put you back to the financial position you would have been in had they not made a mistake.
And in fairness to Vodafone, it says it’s working hard to redress all these problems and is hiring 600 customer service staff to help straighten everything out. So now’s the time to check your bill and get in touch!
Taking the next step
If your complaint with your mobile phone service isn’t resolved in a satisfactory way, you can take your complaint up a level by raising it with an ombudsman. Before you do this you must wait eight weeks before the ombudsman can begin to investigate your complaint.
As an independent, impartial body, the ombudsman is there to settle disputes that can’t be resolved between you and the company, and it could make Vodafone do certain things if it finds in your favour. In fact, it has the power to award up to £10,000 in extreme circumstances. Its decisions can be enforced in court, and are binding on the company.