Ah, Vodafone. They do love to provide me with blog fodder don’t they?
You may recall back in May I posted that, should you be cold called by Vodafone, it was wise to hang up or face being signed into a contract they would then deny all knowledge of.
At that stage, poor Elder, who is the man least likely to own a smartphone and use it for anything other than actual old fashioned phone calls, had had a right old costly nightmare with them.
He’d always had pay and go, owing to the fact he doesn’t really use mobiles in the same way as us younger people do. He is the pipe and slippers of modern tech. However, our house phone bill was flying ever higher and he was finding it a nuisance to keep getting top up vouchers (so was pinching my far simpler, pay monthly tariff, mobile instead).
When Vodafone- who we are both customers of, and who Elder had used for his mobile for well over 10 years (in fact it may even be 15, its been so long since he had another number I don’t recall) phoned him and offered a good deal, he decided he may consider it.
At first they offered a fancy bundle. But Elder wasn’t interested, and said that, should they offer a deal with a good level of minutes, he would accept as he didn’t need a text and data bundle included.
That was what was offered. 600 minutes, £9.50 a month. With a very important cap should he be about to talk the arse end off a donkey and go over his minutes allowance. After all, having had nothing but a pay and go chip for years, he was used to the phone just cutting out when it died.
He was promised this wasn’t a problem, they often put caps on for customers for the same reason, and so, with his new chip he carried on chatting to his mate Ted for ages about any crap that two old mates talk about. Safe in the knowledge that rather than topping up continuously or having to take my phone, he was free to yak for 600 minutes and it would handily switch off when those minutes ceased.
Or so he thought.
It turned out that no, not only had Vodafone not put the cap on, they had lied about how many minutes he was getting, and, as a result, he was overcharged to the tune of £120 over a couple of months. The only reason he realised this was when he got a notification from our bank saying his account was overdrawn.
It turned out he had not been given 600 minutes, but half that, plus data and texts- all things he told the cold caller he didn’t want and was assured had been swapped out for minutes instead.
That is fraud. It is against the law. It also meant that Elder was entitled to a refund, and could have ditched this contract with no further tariff to pay.
They did increase his allowance but stated that, whilst the cold caller had fraudulently offered him a deal which didn’t exist, he would have to pay extra for his 600 minutes- he was offered a rate of £12.50 instead.
Now, I get a phone and unlimited minutes, texts and 2GB of data for £26 a month so thought that a bit steep, but knowing that was all they offered and remembering the horrors of opening £150 phone bills from Sky, thought it would do.
He did though ask for reassurance that the allowance cap and cut off did exist and would this time be actioned, and was promised that the lady on the phone (their online help on live chat is awful) was doing it as they spoke.
Cut to this week and Elder has been back, chatting away to his mates, and happy to have his phone at £12.50 a month. He was so pleased with it after the initial balls up that, as we’ve been discussing Mini having a mobile now she is starting to go to parties and school trips, but don’t want her to join her Dad in stupid bills for chatting crap (in her case about boy bands and Little Mix) to her mates, we were in the process of looking at getting her the same deal from Vodafone.
Until he opened this month’s paper bill.
We asked for paper bills as we didn’t fully trust them not to overcharge him again, and, this time, had the option of cancelling the Direct Debit before they took a stupid amount of money from our account.
It looks like, once again, Vodafone have signed him into a contract and made promises they cannot be arsed to keep.
This month’s bill? Nearly £65.
That’s nearly £52 over his agreed amount.
Did he go mad and start calling abroad?
No. He made 4 calls, only 3 of which went fully over his, supposedly capped, allowance. One partially went over.
One call, the longest over the allowance, was to a local home number, not a mobile, but they charged him £35 for this call. £35!!!!!
Another cost his £15. They charge for calls that go over your monthly allowance by the second rather than the minute, so that was why these calls have been so grossly overcharged.
But what, I hear you ask, happened to the, now twice promised, cap? Surely the phone should have just stopped allowing outgoing calls until the next month rolled round?
See, that is what we were assured, several times, by several Vodafone staff members. Especially when Elder quoted that under UK law, if a mobile provider breaks any aspect of the promised contract terms or level of service, he was in his right to close the contract no matter how long it was meant to continue for with no penalty fee.
My view now is that Vodafone have not one intention of actually sticking to their promises or the cap on the allowance, not when they see fit to charge by the second at an extortionate amount.
I can safely say that I will not be trusting them to provide Mini with a call package, or elsewise I’d be bankrupt in a month.
At a time when parents are looking at mobile packages to keep their kids in contact as they go to Secondary School, and when Vodafone make promises to see they don’t exceed the amount set by the parent, I feel consumers need to be fully aware that it could end up costing you a hell of a lot more than you first thought.
As for Elder?
He has stopped the Direct Debit for this month and has, yet again, had to email their customer complaints team, and no doubt will be offered more false promises and assurances of caps.
If this is what it’s like having this service for 6 months, then they clearly need to get their act in gear.
Vodafone- you are useless. You’ve just lost a family of customers.