BRITAIN'S MOST MOANED ABOUT mobile provider, Vodafone, has finally had its comeuppance in the shape of a record £4.6m fine from Ofcom.
The telecoms regulator slammed Vodafone for serious failures in its handling of customers complaints and for poor service to its pay-as-you-go mobile customers, 10,452 of whom were left out of pocket when Vodafone failed to credit their accounts after they paid to top-up their mobile phone credit.
These pay-as-you-go customers collectively lost £150,000 pounds over the 17-month period to April 2015, Ofcom found.
In addition, Vodafone, the world's second largest mobile operator, failed to identify or address the problems and only acted after Ofcom intervened, and the company's customer service agents were not given proper guidance as to what constituted a complaint.
"Vodafone's failings were serious and unacceptable, and these fines send a clear warning to all telecoms companies," said Ofcom consumer group director Lindsey Fussell.
"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."
Vodafone said it deeply regretted the failures and that it had refunded the vast majority of the affected customers, with all but 30 having been fully reimbursed or re-credited an average amount of £14.35. It has also donated £100,000 pounds to charity.
"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," the company said on its website.
"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."
In March Ofcom said Vodafone was the only provider to have more complaints than the industry average of 10 per 100,000 customers.
The company has been beset by problems over the last few months including a botched migration of customer data into a new customer relationship management (CRM) system which saw sales fall 10 per cent and which may have been the basis for the PAYG glitch, and an incident where hackers accessed the accounts of almost 2,000 customers. μ
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