Tens of thousands of Vodafone customers will have more time to cancel contracts because the mobile network failed to get the rules right with its Roam Further charges.
Between April and May 2017 Vodafone sent out texts to customers to say new charges would be applied for roaming in 60 countries outside the EU.
But Vodafone customers complained to the telecoms regulator Ofcom over concerns that the message was not clear.
Vodafone admitted that 55,000 contract customers could have been affected.
What is Roam Further?
Anyone on a monthly contract with Vodafone is charged a £6 a day flat fee to use their phone in countries outside the EU including the US, Canada and Russia.
Even if they only use 1MB of data, make one phone call or send one text message, the £6 charge is applied to their following month’s bill.
Before Roam Further, customers were only charged for their usage on a pay-as-you-use basis and prices varied between individual countries.
What does the law say?
Mobile phone networks must give their customers a minimum of 30 days notice about changes to their bill that are of “material detriment”.
If customers did not agree to these changes Vodafone should have let them end their contracts without financial or other penalty.
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Ofcom said in this case it had stepped in because of “concerns about the clarity of that text message” and disputes as to whether it had been sent out to all affected customers.
What came next
In response to Ofcom Vodafone sent out a second message to customers and gave them an extra 30 days to exit their contract without penalty.
They also committed to refunding any customers who complained about being left out of pocket because of Roam Further charges.
A spokesperson for the mobile network said: “We took on board Ofcom’s views about notifications and will be sure to follow them.”
Ofcom has now issued new guidance stating that providers need to make sure that any information on customers’ right to exit a contract must be provided in the main body of any communication, rather than as a link to a separate message or website as Vodafone had done.
If you’ve got a contract or SIM Only problem
- Always try to speak to your provider first before escalating the issue. They should be happy to try and resolve any issues you have
- Keep a record of charges or bill items you don’t recognise, along with the times and days you have spoken to your provider before, along with any next steps agreed between yourself and your provider
- Find out how to take your complaint further