Vodafone customers warned to check bills after widespread complaints

Vodafone’s customers are being urged to check their bills after thousands of customers complained they have been incorrectly charged since the company installed a new billing system.

Moneysavingexpert.com said it believed there were “potentially systemic failings” at Vodafone that suggested all of its nearly 20 million customers should be checking their bills and bank statements for errors.

The consumer website said it had been flooded with messages from concerned customers including incorrectly set-up direct debits, customers being put on the wrong tariff and the company taking wrong amounts by direct debit.

Customers also reported their accounts not being transferred to the new billing system, incorrect charges and charges following cancellation, and multiple payments being taken from accounts in a single month.

Those with problems describe calling the company four times trying to get the matter resolved, without success.

Martin Lewis, founder of Moneysavingexpert.com, said: “We’ve seen similar in the past with big energy firms such as Npower and Scottish Power, which have left people in the lurch. Every Vodafone customer should take the time to check through their bills and bank statements – and if they’re wrong, their credit reference files too, to see if everything is all right.”

He said the complaints already received were likely to be a drop in the ocean compared with the amount of people likely affected, as most people don’t rigorously check their bills or tariffs.

Lewis’s claims chime with a rise in complaints about Vodafone to the Guardian’s consumer consumer champions column.

It is the latest company to suffer a customer service meltdown after introducing new technology. Most of the big energy firms have been through this over the past decade – and most lost huge numbers of customers as a result.

Vodafone said work on the new billing system started in 2013 and was completed in December last year.

Customers are able to use the direct debit guarantee to demand their bank refunds any overpayments, if they find that Vodafone has taken the wrong amount.

A Vodafone spokesman said: “While these issues have impacted a very small proportion of our customers over the last year, we take every case extremely seriously and aim to fixed them as soon as possible without any financial impact to customers.

“This was always going to be a highly ambitious and complex programme but the impact of running an IT and a contact centre transformation in parallel was underestimated: the combination of new systems, new processes and new customer services agents impacted service levels significantly.”

The company said it was increasing the number of customer service advisers by 600, including the establishment of a dedicated team of 400 UK advisers focused on resolving issues for customers with complex issues or complaints.

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