Mobile billing failure with Vodafone Ireland

I moved my mobile phone service to Vodafone Ireland in November last year, onto one of their SIM only bill pay contracts. The mobile service worked fine, but for the last six months I didn’t receive a single invoice!

The sign-up process for the bill pay contract seemed to go quite smoothly. A new SIM card was received in the post and my number was ported correctly from my old network. However, from day one, I was unable to see any billing or usage information in the online self-care system ‘My Vodafone’.

I was able to register and login to my account, but once logged into My Vodafone I couldn’t see any details about my bill pay plan. I couldn’t track my free call and data bundles, I couldn’t see the list of calls I’d made, and I couldn’t see anything at all related to billing or payments.

I assumed there was just a problem with the My Vodafone service, so I got on to customer care. They tried to reset some things, and also logged on to My Vodafone themselves to see what the problem might be. Each time I talked to someone they said they would raise a request with the technical team and call me back, but I never heard back.

In the meantime Vodafone was taking payments by direct debit. However, because I couldn’t see any invoices, I was unable to tell how much and when payment would be taken until the money disappeared out of my bank account.

After a few months of repeated contacts trying to get the My Vodafone access fixed, I gave up and instead requested that I get sent paper invoices in the post. They agreed and said it was enabled on their systems, but over the next few months I never received any paper invoices either.

Formal complaint

I figured that the only way to try and get this problem resolved was to raise a formal complaint with Vodafone Ireland, which is easier said than done! The customer care people were reluctant to let me raise a complaint or speak to a manager, and the online complaint form requires a reference number from customer care!

However I did eventually get to raise my complaint on the basis that:

  • Timely and accurate billing is an integral part of any mobile phone service, and that I was unable to see any invoices either electronically or paper based
  • Numerous promises of call backs from managers or technical teams had not happened
  • Vodafone was in breach of SEPA Direct Debit rules that state that a “Pre-notification must be sent by the Creditor at the latest 14 Calendar Days before the Due Date”

I was assigned a person in the Vodafone complaints team to talk to, but they immediately took a defensive posture. They acknowledged that I hadn’t received any invoices, but brushed aside all of the elements of my complaint. The only thing they offered me was to email over the missing invoices.

However the complaints person themselves found that they couldn’t get access to the invoices themselves because of a “known problem” in their billing system. So I guessing that if it’s a known problem, then other people are experiencing the same thing.

I asked whether they were going to offer me any compensation for the inconvenience, or to compensate for the fact that they were in breach of SEPA rules, and they said no. They said that I still owed my monthly contract amount, and that the lack of invoices didn’t matter.

Breaking free

The only small concession I got out of the complaints team – eventually – was that they were willing to release me early from my 12-month contract without any penalties. But even that process was messed up as well! They gave me the wrong account number that is required for me to port my number elsewhere. So for about 5 days numerous porting requests were rejected.

I’m finally free of Vodafone now. When speaking to customer care they told me I was given the wrong account number, and so I was eventually able to port my number away. So I’m now getting my mobile service from a company that can actually do billing properly.

I’ve lost count of the number of phones calls, web chats and emails it took to deal with all the Vodafone billing problems, but it must amount to at least 10 hours trying to sort it out. And I got not one single cent in compensation. Needless to say, I’ll not be a Vodafone Ireland customer ever again!