Why Vodafone are shysters when it comes to their customers

28 September 2010

Bitterwallet - Vodafone are shystersWe got to hand it to you, Vodafone. You are outrageous.

We don't mean that in a manner that might be considered complimentary or fun, for example when used by housewives to describe another housewife on stage with her mouth down the thong of a male stripper.

No, we mean you're outrageous in the sense that you treat your customers unfairly and with the vacuous morals of a particularly disreputable cockroach.

The story is well documented; Vodafone decided to introduce a capped data limit to existing mobile contracts with a Fair Usage Policy, which allowed customers to occasionally exceed the 500MB limit without necessarily being charged. The new capped limit means customers will be automatically charged £5 every time they exceed 500MB from 1 October, and £5 per additional 500MB after that. Although Vodafone vehemently denied this was a change to their Terms and Conditions, they offered customers a route to cancellation-without-fee anyway - something they're only required to offer if there's a change to Terms and Conditions. Er.

We offered plenty of help, advice and letter templates, and we're pleased to say many eligible customers have cancelled their contracts without paying out the reminder of it. But Vodafone are also refusing eligible requests, too. Bitterwallet reader Matt attempted to cancel his contract after reviewing his data usage:

• September - 570MB (unbilled usage so far this month)
• August - 366MB
• July - 655MB
• June - 642MB
• May - 611MB

Matt explains the drop in August's usage was due to issues with his handset's battery, but it doesn't matter - it's clear that Matt is the type of customer that will have to pay more than he agreed when he contracted with Vodafone. Matt contacted Vodafone using our cancellation template, and Vodafone duly sent his PAC code via text - and then a letter explaining he would have to pay out the remainder of the contract.

But what's really gutless about Vodafone's handling in this and, we presume other instances, is that Vodafone doesn't explain their reason behind their decision - or provide any contact details that might allow Matt to dispute the decision. No email address, no telephone number, nothing. You can see the letter for yourself here.

So in the month immediately before Vodafone introduces the data cap, Matt will exceed 500MB. In four of the past five months, Matt has exceeded 500MB. Yet he'll now have to pay £5 per month on top of his £25 tariff - an increase of 20 per cent - without Vodafone explaining why.

TOPICS:   How To Guides

52 comments

  • vodafone_hater
    According to CS the department that deals with this doesn't have a phone line
  • klingelton
    Perhaps this was simply an error - and they will rectify this when 191 is contacted?
  • Mr M.
    But he's got the PAC code. Why doesn't he just change network and not pay them? Then if they want the money they can take him to court.
  • gozomark
    doesn't expalain why but how
  • The B.
    Maybe that's why the head of Vodafone 360's just "left".
  • Alexis
    We all know Vodafone are trying it on. This is too big a change in the terms of the contract, but they're hoping most people will just grin and bear it. The contract is null and void and Vodafone just need telling that the payment will not be forthcoming and to issue court proceedings within 14 days.
  • A O.
    I'm 8 months into a 2 year contract with Vodafone and from day one Vodafone have proved themselves to be a complete shower of shit. I will definitely be cancelling my contract as soon as I can, without financial penalty and would implore anyone not to take a contract with them.
  • ohhai
    I got the exact same letter from them, got pretty pissed off and e-mailed their head office complaining about it and the horrendous customer service I have a PAC code but no confirmation of no ETF yet
  • Jonny
    We took a contract out with Vodafone for 24 months a year ago last July, there have been nothing but problems. First of all, they forgot to add on the fact that as a business customer we would have free landline calls and unlimited texts - what do they do? charge us for all texts and calls. the final bill came to somewhere around £1500 - an absolute travesty. this was eventually sorted and we were in credit with them, but only after hours of countless arguments over the phone with them. Secondly, one of our phones is a BlackBerry - guess what, no BlackBerry messenger! Absolutely no service whatsoever. Obviously this is minute detail but still, it's a Vodafone fault and they can't be bothered to change it. I agree with the voices that preach not to ever get a contract with Vodafone. DON'T. EVER.
  • John F.
    I have the letter saying "Vodafail are currently reviewing their position" and they will tell me if I am eligble at the beginning of October. I have jumped through all their hoops meeting all their conditions but am getting nowhere with them. Luckily i only have one month left with them and I will be free of this poor attempt of a communications company.
  • Spark
    I defected from them after nearly 4 years earlier this month and although I will say in all honesty that they were helpful enough in providing my PAC code, being away from their clutches has been like a breath of fresh air.
  • GMail U.
    As above, just use the PAC code and leave them. Write Vodafone a letter and send recorded delivery stating that since the change in T&C's has been to your detriment then you will not be paying your contract off and will dispute any such bill that they send you and that you8 will vigorously defend yourself if they decide to proceed to court with this. Apart from the fact that they wouldn't have a leg to stand on in court, it would cost them more than they claim you owe, just to send a vulture, sorry I mean lawyer to the court...
  • Matt
    I contacted 191 and they said there was nothing they could do, they suggested I reply to the letter asking for a breakdown of the criteria that I'd failed on, but ultimately it was a department in head office that was in charge of it. In fairness the guy I spoke to was pleasant and helpful, which is quite rare for Vodafone, it's just a shame he's only a front line drone. I am considering using the PAC and telling them to sue me, but I'm not too eager to accept the battering that would give my credit rating in the meantime. It's on the back burner as a very last resort. Anyway, I've bounced off a letter to them disputing it, asking for a letter of deadlock if they still disagree so I can escalate it to the ombudsman (Otelo). I've been with Vodafone for about 11 years, it's ridiculous that they treat long term customers like this.
  • Illusia
    So I have a £35 per month contract, I'm going to be an extra £5 every month, but by my calculation I'm not going to be over the magic 10% extra because with usage my actual bill is usually about £50 - £60. Everyone seems to be getting their knickers in a twist and quoting what their basic tariff is, but it has to be 10% more than your normal BILL not you basic tariff. Get the impression that lots of peeps are trying to jump on the bandwagon to get their contract ended for free, but keep their handset and indulge in a bit of vitperative VF bashing.
  • A O.
    There seems to be a recurring theme here.
  • Matt
    My line rental is £25, my highest bill in total over the last year is £31, so my eligibility is sound. I do know what you are saying though, some people are no doubt thinking that it's just the line rental that's to be taken into account.
  • nittyg
    i,ve sent a letter requesting cancellation and they told me fine contract will end of next month(30 days notice) PLUS a TERMINATION FEE OF £191 !!! WTF!!!!!! even tho they are in breach of contract with me due to the recent changes coming on 1st of october
  • nittyg
    matt u say your total bill over the last year is £31, they say you can only go by previous month bill? so how do u get to use "over last years" ?
  • George A.
    If they charge me that much a termination fee they better suck my dick as well.
  • Richard
    I only got notified by this change on Thursday, which was precisely 7 day's warning. According to section 7, a change like this should have at least 14, if not 31 days notice. I've sent my letter off and we'll see what happens. Like Matt, I'd love to fight this in court, but value my credit rating...
  • nittyg
    regarding cancelling my direct debit, i dont mind paying this months bill, but how do i go about stopping my direct debit after this month, do i just need to contact my bank only to cancel it or do i need to send a letter to vodafone aswell, again once cancelled with bank can vodafone still get money from my bank if direct debit is cancelled? as had enough of chasing them they can chase me if they want cancellation fees of me
  • Oz
    I don't get it. Simple arithmetic based on those five months suggests the bill payer would, if the charge had been in force at the time, been charged 20 pounds (5 pounds four times). His bill is 20 pounds a month or 100 pounds over five. The change in terms results in a 20% increase in his bill. How did they get 10%? This is why I do not have a contract, and I do not have a fancy phone. I have a standard unlocked phone and a 30 day rolling contract sim from tesco. For six pounds a month. Why fatten these companies? Phone culture in the UK is like like carrying a bunch of bricks. You can just decide to let go.
  • H88RRY
    This is unbelievable I work for Hutchison Three Group on the retail side and it was a requirement for me to read the T&C and on them it states that the contract allowance is not to change with the account holders consent. It's seems pretty standard stuff so my advice is to read before you sign I'm 75% sure each person who has had this happen have agreed to something along the line without knowing. Some1 should gather over 100 Vodafone customers who have suddenly had this happen and take ti to watchdog I'm sure they would love this
  • vodafone_hater
    I have just spoke to someone in the magical HQ office - said the department had 5 people in it and about 10,000 customers to deal with and couldn't believe how some people had been treated. The upside is I have a free HTC desire on a 18th month contract with 1.5gb of data usage
  • Timbo
    @Matt, You have allready been charged extra? Then I assume you were never on the originally sold "unlimited" internet. What allowance have you anyway? When did your contract start?
  • Timbo
    @vodafone_hater, I really hope thats 10,000 customers who have written in to cancel! So much for VF's original "only 3% of our users on unlimited internet go over the FUP". I just wish Watchdog et al had picked this up. I had 11 months left on my account when I had it cancelled yesterday, thats £275 they have lost ;) Multiplied by 10,000 = £2.75 million out of pocket for VF. Then there are all the people who will leave after all this, PLUS all those we have all warned NEVER to go with VF again. Reckon on at least £10 million lost revenue for them. Great!!!
  • Judas 2.
    I too am having horrendous problems with this. I used less in August and am being told I cannot cancel. I have used way over 500MB in September and the terms and conditions say "based on the usage in the previous month". Well hello.... As far as I know September is the previous month to October. Or am I missing something here? Anyway. I have sent in my letter requesting cancellation stating that the month previous to October is September and my current consumption. By the way. I don't value my credit rating as I have a fully paid up house and have no desire for loans or credit cards so the petty threats of ruining my Credit Rating will fall on very deaf ears. Further, I have all the additional benefits of time and money at my disposal to make a point with them. Dear Vodafone, Go ahead..... Place a default against me. See if I care. I spoke to my bank about this and they said they will still give me credit if I need it as I am an A1 customer - they also support me fighting you. I look forward to seeing you in court. (If you bother to turn up)
  • Matt
    @Timbo: No, I've not been charged extra as yet, but it's clear that my general usage means I will be. My contract has another 12 months to run, so that represents an extra £60 vodafone will be syphoning out of my pocket, that I never agreed to.
  • Matt
    @vodafone_hater: How did you get through to them, what number/email address did you use?
  • Timbo
    @Judas, I was in a similar position. I was abroad for 2 weeks in August, so only used about 350MB, but for the 4 months before that I was between 500MB and 1GB, and had used over 500MB in first 2 weeks in September. I argued yesterday across all call centres for hours yesterday. "Based on last months usage" to me did not equal "The total amount you used last month" the latter being how Vodafone are interpretting it. I argued that I was only in country for 2 weeks (told them to check roaming records) therefore based on last months usage FOR TWO WEEKS I would be charged extra. Eventually they gave in. If anyone gets through to Belfast I am told (by one of their staff) that all the Team Leaders were briefed on the FUP/10%/Cancellation last week. Start any conversation with "Are you aware of the changes to the FUP and the free early termination memo" when they say no insist they go ask their manager about it! Worked for me!!!
  • Ezz
    Last year, Vodafone overcharged me for mobile sky which they gave me a 'free 3 month trail' which they said would expire unless I specifically asked them to continue with it (I never got it working anyway) and texts. I didn't notice for a few months, as they changed to online billing and I had problem trying to see my bill, which they couldn't resolve. When I finally saw all the extra charges for sky, and texts/calls I phoned them and they said it was there mistake, but they would only refund me for the past 3 months!!! I had several phone calls until I got them to agree to pay me what they owed me, as they had blantantly charged me for texts and calls that I was supposed to be getting in my free minutes. I can't believe I had to argue with them for this! I have been a personal customer of theirs for 14 years, along with my company's mobile users. Our contracts are expiring next month thank god. I doubt I will ever put business their way again.
  • Timbo
    Wait, get this. VF moderators have just posted this: ****************************************************************** As mentioned in the announcement, for any cancellations because of the FUP, a letter needs to be sent in to the address on that announcement, a specialist team will then contact you to confirm the request to cancel and any other options that are available. No other team can authorise the cancellation and if you requested to cancel through any other channel then the cancellations fees will be added to the account. If you are ineligible to cancel, and you still want to cancel the contract, then the cancellation fees will then be added, if this is the case you will again be notified. The procedure on the announcement does need to be followed, as instances like this can happen. Martin ******************************************************************** WTF? So if somebody you have spoken to actually cancels your account, VF are still going to add on the ETF to your final bill? Cancel your DD's guys!
  • vodafone_hater
    calls came from 08080000133 I sent my letter about 13 days ago (recorded delivery) as told via the e-forums after a very unhelpful phone call to CS you basically told me I couldn't do anything. Phoned on Monday (1pm) and had a very confused member of CS team that didn't really help and was mostly silent on the call. Got a PAC code text at about 3pm with no extra info Contacted CS via email was told I'd be charged £280, replied and told them to read the email and sent and actually reply to it - again generic reply. Phoned again today about 12.00 - talked to the CS who said he would check with his manager and come back to me with in an hour 12.50 - Had call back said I'd have to wait for head office and they didn't know why I had my PAC code 13.09 - Missed call from number above 15.00 - Contact made at last and sorted
  • Ezz
    AND I've just check out my bill for last month - they texted me on the 22/8 saying that data after midnight was going to be charged at 1 pound per MB. I checked my bill, and they had started charging me the week before the 22nd - without ever informing me! NEVER AGAIN!!!
  • issac h.
    Where's Len Dastard when you need him?
  • nittyg
    does anyone actually have any telephone numbers for head office rather than using 191 like talking to a brick wall using them
  • Judas 2.
    I am further disgusted by this because I only received my warning Text Message 24 September. I sent my cancellation letter off today by 1st class recorded mail Yet when I read my terms it says changes will be advised to me within 14 and 30 days. Well I have had 7 days notice of this change. As far as I am concerned Vodafone are in breach of contract on a number of things with me. Failing to provide 14 or 30 days notice of the change Introducing a change thats is to my significant disadvantage Introducing a charge that will make my monthly bill greater than 10% currently based on the previous month. And to me the previous month to October (when the change comes in) is September. I have never experienced such a vacuous outfit with such flagrant disregard for its customers.
  • Judas 2.
    Ohh and the Egypt call centre seems to know nothing of this "Fair Use" policy scrappage and the introduction of a charge. They are the most utterly hopeless call centre I have ever experienced
  • Judas 2.
    I think there is no other option other than to with-hold payment until someone listens over this. This is the option I am going for. Vodafone are hopeless to get through to on the phone but I am confident when the money supply disappears they will soon want to talk.
  • Paul
    Is there any update on this issue? I'm in the same boat, I have cancelled my direct debit and have my PAC code sitting here waiting. Now Vodafone won't even talk to me because I'm in the queue to speak to a "specialist team" and need to wait on them getting back to me, which has been over a week! Otello are beyond useless, saying that I need to wait 8 weeks or get a deadlock letter, which Vodafone don't even need to sent out! This should be an open and shut case! Company changes contract, contract void, I get out without needing to pay 300/400 quid.
  • Lloyd M.
    Hi Have just rung up regarding my letter and have now just been told that there is no record of it on my account. There was however 2 weeks ago when I checked they had it.
  • Timbo
    Maybe one last push to Watchdog to get them shamed?
  • Richard
    Judas 222: Are you me?
  • Judas222
    @ Richard Why do you ask?
  • Judas222
    I have spoken to a manager at Experian regarding people's concerns of credit histories being ruined vexatiously by Vodafone through with-holding payment. If you have a contract or billing dispute Vodafone MUST mark any missed payments with "Q". On credit file entries. This means Account in Query. This code has no impact on credit ratings. If Vodafone fail to do this they are in breach of the DPA and their agreement to use CRA reporting systems. In any correspondence stating you will stop payment it is important to refer this fact to them.
  • nittyg
    well well i,ve just been in touch with ofcom and guess what they told me vodafone are claiming in their own terms the following ..."If you think that out of bundle charging will increase your total bill by 10% or more compared to the same usage in the previous month, you may be entitled to cancel your account without penalty" the above in quoted is false, and shouldnt even be there,ofcom quoted their OWN guidelines and pointed me to the SECTION 48(1) OF THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT 2003 in the general condition of entitlement...... the all important clause 9.3b which quotes 9.3 Where the Communications Provider intends to modify a condition in a contract with a Consumer which is likely to be of material detriment to the Consumer, the Communications Provider shall: (a) provide the Consumer with at least one month’s notice of its intention detailing the proposed modification; and (b) inform the Consumer of the ability to terminate the contract without penalty if the proposed modification is not acceptable to the Consumer. yes no mention of the 10% and they also told me to use the above clause highlighted, so may be of use to u guys who were told we werent entitled to cancel our contracts a little update ,,,, they have now since called me back due to telling them about this, and low and behold they offered to cancel without penalty however and heres the funny bit they want the phone sent back , to which i refused, so yet again its ongoing they said someone will be in touch again later, so bring it on, under the terms of vodafone the phone is NOT part of the airtime agreement i have with them. as anyone who has managed to cancel without penalty been asked to send their phone back?
  • klingelton
    If the phone was marketed as free, it's a free gift as a welcome to joining the company. I don't see how they can ask for it back.
  • Matt
    @nittyg: Who is it you spoke to in the end that sorted out your termination?
  • nittyg
    they didnt , i first got a call from one of customer reps, saying i could cancel without early termination fees but id have to send handset back, to which i told them handset is not part of air time agreement so i refused to send mobile back, they then told me i will have to speak to my manager and would get him to call u back, to which i got a call about 20 mins later, martley catling from directors office, rung me, saying sorry nothing as changed regarding cancellation i,m not entitled to cancel without paying ETF first, i was bemused to say the least after being told i could albeit send handset back, when i told her this she new nothing of it and said the person u spoke to shouldnt have told me that, so in end we are in deadlock, have recieved dead lock letter from them, are now in process of hearing back from otelo, as made a formal complaint with them. stuff vodafone and their lies cant be bothered with them anymore, leaving otelo sort it out now ,
  • Ant P.
    I received my PAC code last week and used it immediately to change companies. Just wanted to let you all know that I received a letter from Vodafone today confirming that I could leave without financial penalty and was entitled to keep "the equipment supplied in connection with this contract". I have been able to cancel my contract 9 months early. My data usage was only ever slightly over 500Mb on a couple of occasions during my entire contract period, but I was still able to argue my case successfully (thanks mainly to the letter template on this site - thanks Bitter Wallet). My tactic was to only communicate via recorded delivery letter and not to respond to any attempt by Vodafone to contact me by phone. I wanted the whole thing in writing. Then as soon as I received the PAC via SMS I sent a final letter declaring that I accepted their offer to end my contract without penalty (although they didn't actually say that in the SMS message) and enclosed a cheque to pay off my final bill to 1st October. I had to write three letters in total. Vodafone's response to my first letter was to tell me I could only leave by paying the early termination charge, so the lesson here is to simply ignore their attempts to put you off. They haven't got a leg to stand on in this case and will back down if you don't give up. Good luck to everyone else still battling!
  • hate v.
    @ Ant Potter My monthly bill comes @ around 100 pounds and my contract is 45 a month.... I want to cancel my contract, but I don't want to pay the early cancelation fee. How would i go about? I have 11 months left on my contract...
  • vodafone
    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a enjoyment account it. Glance complex to more brought agreeable from you! However, how can we keep up a correspondence?

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