A top-up error left pay-as-you-go customers out of pocket and complaints were mishandled
Vodafone has been fined a record £4.6 million by the telecoms watchdog for leaving thousands of customers out of pocket in a disastrous IT blunder.
Ofcom found that the operator mishandled complaints and failed to pay into the accounts of more than 10,000 pay-as-you-go customers when they topped up their credit.
The top-up error, which cost customers £150,000 over 17 months in 2014 and 2015, stemmed from the moving of 28.5 million accounts to a new billing system. Errors in billing data and price plans caused so much protest that it made Vodafone the most complained-about mobile network in Britain. The technical issues were resolved by April 2015 and all accounts are now on the new system, Vodafone said.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said:“Vodafone’s failings were serious and unacceptable, and these fines send a clear warning to all telecoms companies.”
The company says that it has refunded customers an average of £14.35 and donated £100,000 to charity for those it could not track down, prompting Ofcom to cut the fine by 7.5 per cent.
A second investigation found that customer service staff were poorly briefed on when to treat calls as complaints and the company failed to ensure that grievances were escalated quickly enough.
Vodafone said that it had invested an extra £30 million in relevant training and hired 1,000 new call-centre staff in Britain.
“We deeply regret these system and process failures. We are completely focused on serving our customers: everyone who works for us is expected to do their utmost to meet our customers’ needs, day after day, and act quickly and efficiently if something goes wrong,” a Vodafone spokesman said.
“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.”
The fine must be paid to Ofcom within 20 working days and the money will be passed to the Treasury.
Source: The Times-London (UK)