Vodafone warning - MoneySavingExpert.com urges all its customers to check their bills for errors

Complaints have soared after a huge number of blunders reported following the launch of a new billing platform last year

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Vodafone warning – MoneySavingExpert.com urges all the mobile giant’s customers to check their bills for errors
Complaints have soared after a huge number of blunders reported following the launch of a new billing platform last year

MoneySavingExpert.com is urging all Vodafone customers to check their bills for errors ASAP after 1,000s reported problems – and that’s likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Ever since Vodafone moved to a new billing platform last year we’ve had a huge number of reports of serious blunders, including direct debits incorrectly set up, people being put on the wrong tariff and poor customer service. We’ve even heard reports of some people discovering that their credit score has been wrongly hit. And our experience is backed up by official figures, with a huge rise in complaints since Vodafone launched its new billing system last year.

- Ofcom data shows it’s had more than three times as many complaints about Vodafone as any other network – pay-monthly complaints about Vodafone more than doubled from 14 per 100,000 customers in Q1 of 2015 to 32 per 100,000 in the final quarter.

- The Communications Ombudsman has warned it’s seen “an increasing number of complaints over the last nine months” and it’s working with Vodafone “to identify the root causes of the issues”.

- Complaints website Resolver says Vodafone’s the most complained-about telecoms firm on its site by a wide margin – it had 6,213 cases opened against it between May 2015 and April 2016, more than double the next telecoms firm, TalkTalk.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, says:

“It looks very likely Vodafone has had systemic problems with its billing, direct debits and tariff information after changing its systems. We’ve seen similar in the past with big energy firms such as Npower and Scottish Power which have left people in the lurch.

“Every Vodafone customer should take the time to check through their bills and bank statements – and if they’re wrong, their credit reference files too, to see if everything is all right.

“The 1,000s of complaints already received about Vodafone are likely to be a drop in the ocean compared with the amount of people likely affected, as most people don’t rigorously check their bills or tariffs.

“This is a clarion call as one of Britain’s biggest companies, today revealed as its most valuable brand, has frankly cocked-up big time.”

Vodafone told us:

“We would like to apologise to any customers who have been affected by our recent customer service issues… many of the recent issues relate to the move of our legacy billing and services platforms into one state-of-the-art system.

“This was always going to be a highly ambitious and complex programme but the impact of running an IT and a contact centre transformation in parallel was underestimated.”

Since we published our Vodafone warning guide last night, we’ve had users contact us to share their stories, for example:

- “I have had ongoing bill problems for six months where they charge me an extra £50 for a phone number I don’t have. They say it’s a computer error.” - Kimberley

- I was overcharged every month for four months and had to call four times each time to get it sorted. Will be leaving them when I can!” - Anna

Here are some of the other stories we’ve heard:

- “I cancelled my Vodafone contract in 2015, but they've now sent debt collectors saying I owe money as I didn’t cancel properly. Please advise, I am a pensioner. I know I cancelled it.” - Mary

- “In November I noticed I hadn’t had a phone bill as expected, and realised my money hadn’t been collected. I phoned Vodafone and was told it was due to them changing their software. I’ve since phoned 14 times to try to sort it out, yet I received a letter telling me my account’s suspended as I’ve defaulted.” - Gina

- “Vodafone cut off my service and said it was carrying out a fraud investigation. Four months later I received an email from Equifax to tell me Vodafone had lodged four missed payments. I rang them to cancel the contract – they said a bag would be dispatched to send my handset back in. This never arrived, then I received another email from Equifax – Vodafone had added a default to the missed payments! I’m hoping to move house this year and this might just stop it happening.” - Tom

MSE’s step-by-step help – how to check if you’re affected

- 1) Check your Vodafone bill – it may be wrong. In particular, make sure you’re on the right tariff, check you’re getting bills as expected and look for incorrect charges.

- 2) Even if your bill’s correct, check your bank statements too – some have found the wrong amount’s been taken. In particular, check if payment’s actually being taken through your direct debits, make sure you’re not being double- or triple-charged and, if you’ve cancelled, check you’re not still paying.

- 3) Found a problem? Check your credit score too. We’ve heard of a number of cases where a mistake on Vodafone’s part has led to credit agencies and debt collectors getting involved – meaning credit scores are damaged as a result.

MSE’s step-by-step help – what to do if there’s a problem

- 1) Work out what redress you want – the most important thing is to be put back into the position that you would have been in had the issues not happened. That should mean refund of any overcharges and any expenses directly incurred as a result (eg, bank charges resulting from a fault). Some have also managed to get recompense for the time and trouble, though this isn’t primarily about compensation.

- 2) Contact Vodafone – call or contact it online and see if it can sort the issue quickly.

- 3) If that doesn’t work, use free online tool Resolver to lodge a formal complaint – it helps track your correspondence and can escalate your complaint if necessary up the various levels of management at Vodafone.

- 4) If that still doesn’t work, or it’s been more than eight weeks, escalate your complaint to the Ombudsman – if you use Resolver, it will help do this too. The Ombudsman’s told us around 60% of complaints about Vodafone in the past six months were upheld.

Click here for the full guide: