Vodafone has been fined a total of £4.6m after telecoms regulator Ofcom ruled it had subjected customers to “serious and sustained breaches of consumer protection rules”.
The fines follow two investigations into the firm’s treatment of customers.
More than 10,400 pay-as-you-go customers lost out after credit they had bought wasn’t applied to their mobile phone account.
This meant customers were “paying money for nothing,” according to the regulator which says Vodafone “failed to act quickly enough to identify or address” the problem which has been blamed on a change of billing system.
Corrective action was only taken following the regulator’s intervention.
The failures have resulted in a £3.7m fine which must be paid within 20 days.
A second investigation found that Vodafone failed to comply with industry rules on handling customer complaints and has resulted in a further fine of £925,000.
Ofcom says customer service agents “were not given sufficiently clear guidance on what constituted a complaint” and that its processes “were insufficient” to ensure all complaints were appropriately escalated or dealt with in a fair way.
In addition, the firm’s procedures failed to ensure customers were told, in writing, of their right to take an unresolved complaint to a third-party resolution scheme after eight weeks.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom 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”.