UK communications regulator Ofcom is fining Vodafone £4,625,000 for mis-selling, inaccurate billing and poor complaints handling.
This penalty is the result of two separate Ofcom investigations. One found that around 10,000 ‘pay as you go’ customers didn’t receive their credit after Vodafone upgraded its billing system. Ofcom said this problem was exacerbated because Vodafone didn’t react quickly enough to the issue. The second investigation found flaws in Vodafone’s complaint handling process.
£3,700,000 of the penalty was for taking customers’ money without providing a service and £925,000 for the complaint-handling flaws. The money will be passed on to HM Treasury.
All affected customers have been reimbursed except for 30 who couldn’t be traced. The average refund per customer was £14.35.
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. 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.”
In a statement, Vodafone said “we deeply regret these system and process failures” and offered “our profound apologies to anyone affected by these errors”. It described the issue as a consequence of errors when moving more than 28.5 million customer accounts to a new IT system.