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Our Vodafone Complaints PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

OUR VODAFONE COMPLAINTS

VODAFONE'S TWELVE BREACHES OF CONTRACT

Barry Williamson

March 2009

See also the mentions of Vodafone in our article on this website: Internet on the Move

To share your experience of resolving a problem with Vodafone, just Contact Us!

Examples and links to many other complaints about Vodafone service around the world, and complaints about their complaints procedure, are given below. 

Summary of my Complaints

Fuller details are given below, but my overall conclusion is:

Keep Away from Vodafone and All its Works!

In September 2007, I bought a USB data card modem in the main Vodafone shop in Huddersfield. It turned out that the manager of the shop gave me inaccurate and misleading information at the time of purchase, especially about the cost of its use abroad.

In January 2008, I used the USB device for a limited time on only two days in the whole month, on the Greek Vodafone network. For this, I was charged an excess of 473!

This absurdly excessive sum of 473 was removed by direct debit from my current HSBC bank account on 11 March 2008, taken without heed to its effect on my finances.

It took many emails and two letters before I received any reply, by email. Initially I was simply told that it was a 'billing error', with no other explanation, no apology, no offer of complete refund.

The Direct Debit Guarantee states, in part: 'If an error is made by Vodafone Limited or your Bank/Building Society, you are guaranteed a full and immediate refund from your branch of the amount paid.' This of course, did not happen. I cancelled the Direct Debit to prevent a further fraudulent withdrawal.

In June 2008, six months after the event, the mistake was eventually acknowledged by Vodafone but it took several more emails before a refund was made.

Throughout this period of writing to Vodafone, I was never given any details of their complaints procedure. All I had were a series of chatty, pseudo-friendly and patronisingly repetitive emails.

I was told that details of this abysmal story were going to be retained without my permission and used as a case study in the training of future operatives.

Since June 2008 I have not used the device at all but Vodafone continue to insist that the contract I took out with them in September 2007 is still in force and that I should continue to pay them a monthly fee of 25 plus VAT. I claim in turn that the contract was ended in June 2008 - broken by Vodafone in twelve separate ways.

More recently, Vodafone have used the services of a debt-collecting agency masquerading as Solicitors (CapQuest Debt Recovery, Fleet 27, Rye Close, Fleet, Hampshire GU51 2QQ), of the '7-days or else the bailiffs are coming round' variety. They focused their attention on a previous address, no longer in use!

At the date of writing (March 2009), the matter continues unresolved. The debt-collecting agency have withdrawn from the scene but Vodafone continue to send their own '7-days or else' type letters.

Keep Away from Vodafone and All its Works!

Extracts from my Letters to Vodafone

What follows is a copy of a letter I sent to Vodafone on 3 December 2008 (one of several such), giving full details of my complaints and the twelve ways in which they had broken the contract made between us in September 2007.

Lanouaille
Dordogne
France

3 December 2008

Vodafone
Vodafone House
The Connection
Newbury RG14 2FN

Dear Vodafone

USB Modem No *********** Mobile Phone No *********** Acc No *********.

I have recently had forwarded to me a number of letters from a debt collecting agency, claiming that I owe you a not inconsiderable sum of money. This I strenuously deny and I object strongly to the crude tactics you are using in an attempt to force this money from me, since my contract with you ended in June 2008.

From your records you will see that we exchanged a very large number of emails and I wrote you two letters (copies attached) following your completely inexcusable withdrawal of 473 from my bank account by direct debit on 11 March 2008. This was for the month of January 2008, when I used the modem on only two days on the Preferred Greek Vodafone network.

Below I list the twelve ways in which YOU breached the contract that I entered into with you in Huddersfield on 4 September 2007 for the use of the USB Modem. Following this, I made it clear to you, by letter and by email, that the contract was at an end. Not ended by me, but ended by you. Need I remind you that contracts are between TWO parties and either party can be in breach of the contract. In this case, it was clearly you who were in breach. I followed the terms of the contract, using preferred networks and setting up a direct debit, which you overtly abused, without apology and with a prolonged attempt to avoid repayment.

I now expect you to withdraw your claim that I owe you any money. If anything, you owe me money for breaking the contract, impeding my work as a travel writer roaming throughout Europe, and wasting my time writing letters such as this.

Yours faithfully

Barry Williamson

The following list, which was attached to the above letter, had already been made and forwarded to Vodafone on 18 June 2008.

1.  I have had a monthly mobile phone contract with Vodafone since December 1998 - nearly ten years. This began in the days when a deposit of 250 was required before taking the phone out of the UK. I still have this account.

2.  I entered into a monthly contract (95 plus VAT) to use a Vodafone PC slot datacard on 24 November 2005 and I used it for 23 months. It was essential to my work as a travel writer, for emails, for keeping check on my accounts and on my rented property and for maintaining my long-term, long-distance travellers' website.

3.  I used the PC card throughout Europe and was overcharged (through 'billing errors') on five separate occasions. Each time, after prolonged argument, restitution was made.

4.  On 4 September 2007 I changed to a USB datacard modem, in the main Vodafone shop in Huddersfield. The manager of the shop clearly stated that there would be an immediate exchange with the PC slot datacard - ie there would be no overlap of contracts and no double payment.

5.  The manager also stated that use of the USB datacard would be unlimited in the UK and would cost an extra 6 pounds per 24 hours (plus VAT) when roaming.

6.  First breach of contract by Vodafone: There was a TWO-month overlap in payment between the two devices - I was asked to pay 95 plus VAT twice when I wasn't using the PC slot datacard device, which I had replaced with (and was using) the USB datacard. Only after strong protest was one month's payment of 95 plus VAT refunded.

7.  Second breach of contract by Vodafone: I discovered in due course that the actual extra cost of using the USB device when roaming is over 8 per 24 hours plus VAT.

8.  Third breach of contract by Vodafone: In Janaury 2008, using the USB device for a limited time on only two days in the whole month, I was charged an excess of 473!

9.  Fourth breach of contract by Vodafone: The total sum of 552 was removed by direct debit from my current HSBC bank account on 11 March 2008, when the bill should have been 79. The absurdly excessive sum of 473 was taken without heed to its effect on my finances. It could have put the account into deficit, since I was certainly not expecting such a large bill; it might have meant that other direct debits (perhaps including credit cards or other critical payments) were not met.

10.  Fifth breach of contract by Vodafone: During March and April 2008 I wrote 5 emails of complaint via the Vodafone website, on the official Vodafone form, and also sent two letters to the Vodafone head office. Apart from computer-generated acknowledgments of the emails, each with a reference number, I received no reply of any kind. In other words, my complaints were completely ignored for a long period of time. Examples of auto replies: 14 March 2008 ref 5095147. 27 March 2008 ref 5130514. 14 April 2008 ref 5196932.

11.  When I did obtain a reply by email, I was simply told that it was a 'billing error'. No other explanation, no apology, no offer of complete refund.

12.  Sixth breach of contract by Vodafone: The direct debit form issued by Vodafone clearly states: 'Details of the Direct Debit Guarantee can be found on the back of this part of the letter and should be retained by you for your records.' The Guarantee states, in part: 'If an error is made by Vodafone Limited or your Bank/Building Society, you are guaranteed a full and immediate refund from your branch of the amount paid.' This, of course, did not and has not  happened.

13.  I paid one further bill of 60 by direct debit on 11 April 2008 but, having been ignored for so long, having received no explanation of any useful kind for the gross overcharge, and fearing that it would happen again, I then cancelled the direct debit. But see note 20 below.

14.  Seventh breach of contract by Vodafone: Throughout this period of writing to Vodafone, I was asking for details of their complaints procedure. This was ignored until I was eventually given a complex url to follow, in order to obtain details for myself. The irony of asking me to use the internet to discover how to complain about a company that was making it impossible for me to access the internet through their network was obviously lost on their operatives.

15.  Eighth breach of contract by Vodafone: In my emails, I requested details of the contract that related to my use of the USB datacard. I knew what its code was but I could find no mention of this on Vodafone's labyrinthine website. I inferred from other schemes that I may also have been limited in the number of megabytes I could use in any one period of 24 hours and the total number of megabytes in any one month. Further, I could find no definition of '24 hours' - is this measured from when starting work or from midnight to midnight? If the latter, is this measured in the local time, in UK time or in GMT where this is different? I never did get to know.

16.  Ninth breach of contract by Vodafone: Offer of a Complete Refund which was then withdrawn. Eventually on 7 May 2008, I was offered the choice of a refund of 473 by cheque, or by internet transfer, or by crediting the amount to my Vodafone account. I clearly indicated that I much preferred direct internet transfer and gave details of my bank account. I definitely rejected the notion of a credit to my Vodafone account, since I had stopped using the USB device long before this late date. I was then informed that Vodafone could only transfer the amount of 473 to the account on which I had the direct debit with them (which I had cancelled)! So I replied, expressing some exasperation and asking for a cheque to be sent to my home address. Why promise to make restitution, long after the event, and then withdraw that offer?

17.  Tenth breach of contract by Vodafone: Sum of 473 credited to my Vodafone Account despite the offer of note 16. I then received an email from a different source - another operative, Kim Appleton - hoping that I was now satisfied that the sum of 473 had been credited to my Vodafone account and ignoring, yet again, all the other complaints and questions that I had raised. The situation was rapidly transmogrifying into a Kafkaesque nightmare. Nor did the refund materialise.

18.  Eleventh breach of contract by Vodafone: Amount credited to my Vodafone Account reduced by 181. After my emailed protest, the operative Kim Appleton, on 28 May 2008, offered to credit my Vodafone account with the sum of 473 LESS the amount said to be owing on two current bills (86 for April and 95 for May, the latter not yet due for payment), giving a credit in my account of 292. Again, Vodafone had broken an agreement: an offer they had made and I had agreed to. The payment of future bills is a  matter quite separate from the refund of a gross over-payment and the terms of the Direct Debit Guarantee.

19.  Twelth breach of contract by Vodafone: After I had protested at the unilateral and illegal action taken at note 18, Kim Appleton wrote back that all the money was to be held back against future bills! Again, Vodafone had broken an agreement which they had offered and I had agreed to.

20.  At this stage, I simply want to make it clear that I had no choice but to cancel the Direct Debit to Vodafone, since I had no other means of preventing them grossly overcharging me yet again, as they had done on no less than 7 previous occasions. I had in no way indicated that I would not pay any legitimate bills that were presented to me - this could easily be done with payment by cheque. I had not indicated in any way that I would not reinstate the direct debit if I could be assured that money would not be illegally removed from my account in the future. I certainly intended to keep the part of the account that referred to my mobile phone, a contract I have had with Vodafone for over 9 years.

There are no grounds of any kinds for withholding repayment of money illegally taken from me in any circumstances! The issue of payment of current and future bills (which are not in dispute) is absolutely no reason and no excuse for holding on to stolen money.

21.  I also object strongly to being told by the operative Kim Appleton that details of the abysmal story are going to be retained and used as a case study in the training of future operatives. My permission was not asked and I do not believe it appropriate material for such training. Operatives should not be scapegoated when they work for an organisation that has such ineffective and uncaring procedures and so little regard for its customers.

22.  Vodafone informs me that I cannot end the contract for the USB device except by giving notice 'in writing' when the contract period (??) ends. Emails are 'writing' and, as I have made quite clear in this email, I regard Vodafone as having ended the contract themselves, in all the ways listed above. Contracts have two parties, each of whom has to fulfil the terms that were entered into at the time the contract was agreed. I have been misinformed, ignored, lied to and manipulated in ways that are quite unacceptable.

Barry Williamson

Overall, Keep Away from Vodafone and All its Works!

EXPERIENCE OF FELLOW VODAFONERS

1. Here are some links to many more complaints against Vodafone service, including complaints about their complaints procedure itself. There are websites listing complaints in every country in which Vodafone operates, including the UK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, India, Albania.

The UK-based 3G Forum details 260 complaints against Vodafone
http://www.3g.co.uk/3GForum/forumdisplay.php?f=269

Have a look at some of these:

http://forum.vodafone.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=10750

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=295048

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B799Yx0d7JI

http://www.stopvodafone.com/vodafone-complaints-threaten-shares/

http://www.notgoodenough.org/viewtopic.php?t=34362

http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/vodafone-c178918.html

2.  From a Friend in Yorkshire (extract from an email dated 18 March 2009)

I've just read your Vodafone story. I have a similar one.

When data cards first came out, my husband thought it would be a great way of emailing etc while he was out and about. We got ours from PC World, where the guy explained all about it. We asked lots of questions and got (we thought) all the right answers, except what 'downloading' was. He said that it meant when we opened emails with attachments that was a download.

The first month's bill was around 30 and we expected it to be similar each month - how wrong could we be?

When the next bill was 75, I rang them and asked why it was so high. They couldn't explain and, after being passed around a few people, it turned out that downloading meant opening pages on the internet. Thinking it was not expensive, I'd spent ages on the internet while we were travelling in the car, looking up flights etc. Anyway, I explained what I had been told (in PC World) about usage. I said I didn't want the data card if it was going to cost me so much and that I had been 'mis-sold' the contract. We couldn't get it to work in Greece anyway, which was one of the ideas behind having it.

After a lot of to-oing and fro-ing, the contract with Vodafone was cancelled. I went to PC World and told them the same thing. More to-ing and fro-ing with people in their office eventually ended up with them agreeing to terminate the contact, refund the money for the data card ... and I've still got the thing sitting in a box. But it was all so much bother. I think it because it was such early days and they really didn't know what they were doing.

We've got a Vodafone dongle now at 29 a month and it works beautifully in the UK, a necessity for work, but when my husband retires, it will go - it's too much to pay for the luxury of use when travelling abroad. We also have a Blackberry but we don't use that abroad at all as it's too expensive.

I feel sorry that you have had to go through all of that with Vodafone but your perseverance is so necessary in matters like this. Don't give up!

3. A Complaint Received from Razia Begum in April 2009

I am disgusted at the service I have received from the Customer Service Team. One year ago today I was going to cancel my contract, which was 40 per month after my 18 months had finished. I was convinced by a sales person to keep the contract. I explained I had a better deal with T-mobile and I was sticking to them. The advisor then turned around and said that he could give me a better deal and would make my contract 20 per month for as long as I have the contract with Vodafone. I thought this was a very good deal, so I accepted it.

However, today 21-04-2009, I received a text message with my bill stating that my bill is over 40. I was gob-smacked as I know since March I have been trying to keep my mobile bill limited. So I rang Customer Service and spoke to a Laura, who tried to point the finger at me. I requested to speak to the manager: she came back to me after 25minutes and said no-one was available and that she would give me one more month. Again, I was shocked, thinking 'What discount?'

My contract should be 20 per month. Laura told me it was only for 9 months - and 40! After I explained this was not sold to me this way and I was very, very upset. It looks like the advisor wanted to get his sale and mis-sold the product to me. She then passed me to a team leader who apologised and said he will give me 2 months discount!

This was not on! I do not want a discount; I want what was promised to me, which was not to upgrade and get a phone or to cancel the contract, but to take the offer he offered me.

I wasn't happy with the way my complaint was resolved. I asked for it to be investigated and escalated. I spoke to a David Watts, and he told me that it has been escalated to him and this is the result: 2 months discount only. I requested to speak to someone higher - he then said he was the manager. 20 minutes before, speaking to him, he said he was team leader. I just felt that they were trying to fob me off.

When I accepted the Vodafone offer, I told the advisor I had a better deal with T-mobile. Now I have lost that deal for 9 months discount. I want my contract to be 20 per month as agreed. I have no paperwork to prove it as this was done on the telephone.

I would like you please to investigate, even if you have to get the recorded conversation. Please can you solve this for me. I will cancel my contract with Vodafone, as the response I have had was not acceptable, unless it is resolved.

4. A Complaint Received from Helen Caldwell in August 2009

This is yet one more example of the cavalier way in which Vodafone treat any customer who has a query, let alone a complaint!

I bought a Pay As You Go (PAYG) Vodafone handset in March. The small print in the box matches what I was told when I bought it, ie it's on 'Vodafone Simply' (20p/minute calls, 10p texts).

In July I went to France; I signed up for 'Vodafone Passport' and checked I had enough balance to cover use before I went. When I came back my balance had dropped to 54p, and I had hardly used it.

I emailed Vodafone and asked for an explanation of what they claimed I'd spent in France, three weeks ago. So far:

* I've had two requests for 10 so they can process my 'subject access request'. I have indicated strongly that they are misinterpreting the Data Protection Act and that they should get a move on.

* I've had one email saying 'since I claim I have paid the above 10, can I provide proof of this.'

* I've had a sort of breakdown of my spending, for the week after the week in question.

* I've been told it will take 6 weeks to get the information together, once I have paid this mythical 10.

* Every time I have asked about the complaints process I have been offered compensation.

Despite the best efforts of the lovely people at Vodafone, I have just realised one salient point: my account is actually set up with the Smartplus plan. I believe this was actually withdrawn before I bought the phone. This charges 35p/minute for calls and 12p for texts. I emailed them with this epiphany yesterday and to my surprise (!) have not yet had a response.

PAYG phones are by definition used mainly by people who don't use their mobile a lot and who are therefore less likely to rigorously scrutinise what they are being charged - especially when it is (it seems) absolutely impossible to get the provider to give you a statement. I am far from convinced that I am the only one to whom this 'error' has happened. I'd be really interested in hearing from anyone else who has had the same problem, and I'd urge anyone with a PAYG Vodafone to log on and check what payment plan they are on.

5. An example of a Complaint to Vodafone, taken from the Internet

My contract expires with you on 29/7/7 and thank God. It couldn't have come sooner. You are supposed to be looking after your 'customers'. The way I've been treated by you lot is quite frankly disgusting.

I was lied to when I arranged my initial contract saying you would price match any network offers. This I found out was not true, and consequently cost me a fortune as I constantly went over my pathetic tariff. I was tricked into extending my contract to 18 months. I hardly get reception anywhere, not even in my flat in LONDON!

My first phone was faulty. It switched itself off randomly, causing me no end of grief. When I called to try and receive a new one I was told I would have to pay for a new handset. Then when my PA called and spoke to someone (after 2 hours on the phone, and being cut off by your rude, unhelpful, devious, and moronic staff) they finally agreed to send a replacement.... A week later I received a new BATTERY!!!?? It took another hour or so begging and demanding to your idiot customer services staff, and they eventually sent a new phone.

This phone I have now doesn't send texts always and if it does people don't receive them til days after. I also do not receive texts from people. -I was persistently pestered by your call centre Neanderthals during the whole 18 months asking me on a weekly basis is I would like to 'extend my contract'. Pain in the backside!!!!!!! How many times can you say NO!!!!!!! After several months of this harassment. One of those retards tried to tell me I had agreed to a 2 year contract!

Every time I tried to call regarding any matter my PA and myself had to argue the case that I only had an 18 month contract and not 2 bloody YEARS!!!! It made my blood boil, and I was called a LIAR BY YOUR STAFF!!!!!!!!!!

When it finally came to the end of this saga. After more attempts to try and bully me into thinking I had 2 years on this contract and being persuaded to stay with Vodafone cos they offer 'so many things'. I was hung up on 3 times. Spoke to all number of simpletons who tried to trick me into paying money to end my contract! or just could not grasp the fact that I needed a PAC code, and how this was done. Specifically 'Dave' at your call centre, is one of the rudest, most unhelpful, plain dumb, infuriating, brainless s.o.b's I have ever had the mispleasure to encounter. He refused to put me through to his superior on 5 occasions after telling me I had a 2 year contract and I had to pay more money to end my contract on the agreed 29th July date. What a total pleb. How you can employ these inbreds to represent your company is just beyond me.

When I finally did get out of this hell 18 months, I have been and am still being plagued by more idiots calling me asking me if I'm sure I want to end my contract blah blah blah. Also I keep receiving letters and texts on promotions etc can you please STOP THIS!!!!!!!

So overall your company is an utter shambles...

Your customer service care staff lie, argue and hang up on you and wouldnt know customer service if it crawled up their rear during the night. I suggest you look at some of these monkeys because they should be flipping burgers in McDonalds... Actually no, that's too much responsibility. They should be used as hatstands in Wimpy! If they can manage it....

The contract is a PRISON SENTENCE! The rates extortionate and I will be telling people about the diabolical service you gave me. I will NEVER EVER recommend Vodafone to anyone, quite the opposite in fact.

Thanks for thieving my money, causing me and my pregnant PA an incredible amount of stress, and calling me a liar.

Good riddance

USEFUL ADDRESSES

Vodafone Addresses

Email: Vodafone Chief Executive
Website: www.vodafone.co.uk
Forum: http://forum.vodafone.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=10750
Write: Vodafone Ltd, Correspondence Management, Post Room, Balliol House, Banbury, Oxon OX17 3NS

OTELO Addresses

Email:

Website: www.otelo.org.uk
Write: Otelo. PO Box 730, Warrington WA4 6HL
Phone: 01925 430049 or 0845 050 1614
Fax: 01925 430059