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Vodafone pins service issues on ‘highly ambitious’ systems upgrade

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In response to recent reports of on-going billing problems at Vodafone UK, the operator has conceded its recent systems upgrade programme may have been over-ambitious.

The latest bad press originated from a report by respected consumer advice site moneysavingexpert.com, which published a piece entitled ‘Vodafone warning – all customers check your bills ASAP for errors’, which was the result of an investigation. The site said it had “uncovered huge numbers of problems with billing, incorrect tariffs, customer service and other issues,” following the move to a new billing platform last year.

“It looks very likely Vodafone has had systemic problems with its billing, direct debits and tariff information after changing its systems,” said moneysavingexpert.com founder Martin Lewis. “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.

“The thousands of complaints already received about Vodafone are 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. This is a clarion call as one of Britain’s biggest companies, today revealed as its most valuable brand, has frankly cocked-up big time.”

The site published some of Vodafone’s response, but Telecoms.com received the following full statement from a Vodafone spokesperson:

“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 fix them as soon as possible without any financial impact to customers. We are always disappointed when customers needed to raise complaints with us and, more so, when we then do not resolve them effectively first time.  Our teams, at all levels, want to provide our customers with a great service every time but we are clearly not there yet, so are investing significant resources to do so as quickly as we can.

“Many of the recent issues relate to the move of our legacy billing and services platforms into one, state-of-the-art system.  This is to give customers far greater control and visibility of their whole account, including real time billing access, while allowing our customer services’ channels to have access to one set of customer information and treat customers as people not telephone numbers.  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.

Vodafone has committed to spend an additional £15 million on its customer systems, as well as increasing the number of customer service advisers by 600 and opening a new call centre in Glasgow to serve its consumer broadband customers.

A recent Ofcom report revealed an alarming jump in the number of complaints it received about Vodafone in the second half of last year and, if this latest report is anything to go by, the problems have yet to be resolved. Ofcom is actively investigating this matter and recently concluded Vodafone has a case to answer. The longer this goes on, the more of a PR disaster it will be for the company so it needs to draw a line under the whole affair soon.


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