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back to article Vodafone takes one on the chin for billing problems

Vodafone has blamed recent changes to its billing system for a litany of problems affecting its UK network, from inaccurate bills to disconnected calls, but is refusing to say who's responsible for the debacle. Billing systems are integrated into every part of a mobile network, often in a badly documented fashion, so a failure …

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Nevermind who

I want to know when it will be back up. It's been down for months already

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Yep

I love the fact that actually have to chase them about screwing up your bill before they admit that it's screwed. If you don't check your monthly bill from them they'll take every penny you have for calls, texts and data that you never used.

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Anonymous Coward

"...this part of the site will be down for a short while."

MyVodafone on-line itemised billing has been saying this for at least a fortnight. I know because that is when my last bill arrived which was double the normal amount and I want to find out why! I don't think their billing system is responsible for the increase but I would like to know what I did to make it double. To their credit their customer service people have offered to send me a paper itemised bill but I'm still waiting for that to arrive in the post.

I've called twice to ask when it will be back, they were unable to tell me what was wrong with it or when it'll be back. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence in their processes!

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Re:"this part of the site will be down for a short while"

Same here. I have only been a vodafone customer for a short while but I'm beginning to think that O2 really weren't that bad.

Offering a paper bill for no charge really isn't an answer to the problem, I should be able to see how many minutes I have left, what numbers I have called etc whenever I want. The site is so slow it feels as if it is being hosted on a zx81 with a 14k modem. Their web team needs the sack.

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Ian

Bunch of muppets

I got 2 3G cards for my company a few months back - first bill overbilled me by over £100. They only fessed up when I called them, then had to chase 3 times for a refund.

They initally offered me a credit note, which is about as much use as tits on a bull if you're paying DD from your own bank acount.

3 days ago they finally admitted that it wasn't possible to issue me with a corrected bill having promised it to me twice.

I can't belive ethat they 1. overbill you 2. don't fess up 3. trey to keep hold of the money once you've caught them out 4. fib about fixing you up with correct paperwork.

Oy Vey. I can only assume they have bought NThell's old billing system....

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Anonymous Coward

they have a problem with paper as well...

I've been unable to claim my expenses for 2 months now as the billing has been unavailable, 3 requests for paper bills that have never materialised either, combined with very shady details when asked what is exactly happening..... not impressed.

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"...this part of the site will be down for a short while."

Signed up for Vodafone 2 weeks ago, and funnily enough Vodafone Online yesterday. What a mess: it doesn't just work / not work, but half works when it feels like it and gets itself completely screwed as well. Go Vodafone.

And somebody tell me why, randomly, when I ring 121 for Vodafone voicemail it tells me "number not in use"?!

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@Neil B

"Their web team needs the sack." ... i think they already got the sack, hence the problems!

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Get on the phone to them

They've gave me half price line rental for six months.

Also gave me a 120mb bundle as they changed my inclusive bundle to Text Messages Only.

It does make me angry that they don't admit to screwing up.

Loads of people probably haven't bothered to check their bills and with Itemised billing down - how can you!?

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HTTP

Let's hope they use SSL/https on their upgraded online billing - that's if they ever get it working.

Maybe some of the problems are caused by preparation to share 3G with Orange!?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/08/orange_vodafone_network/

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I can confirm the 3G data story

Yep, this rings true.

They tried to overbill me for 130+ pounds for usage on 3G data by billing versus a product different from the one I signed for.

To add insult to injury they tried doing it by billing versus a product that no longer existed at the time of signing the contract so they could not have done that even in error. They have not corrected the bill either, and so far, they only claim to have "credited the account". It is not actually visible on their billing portal and there is no way to be sure that this is true.

It also took almost an NTL-ish amount of time to get to the point where they confessed to the error and claimed to have refunded it. All of that to a 870 number for which they most likely receive a nice kickback.

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me too!

I also have a vodafone 3G datacard 250MB limit. Never go anywhere near my monthly limit and as such dont check my bills that often, only to find last 2 months they've charged my almost £100 each month. 5 phone calls down the line and still no refund. This is theft as far as I'm concerned.

Do not get a Vodafone datacard (not that one would :/)

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documentation

I'd be very ready to believe that outsourcing was the root of the problem here. Developers hate to document anything. It doubles the production time. And it's always so much quicker when you know a system to trace the code then to try to figure out the documentation - so when you lose the internal developers, you lose the knowledge base.

From working in Ericsson, I know that telephone systems are written in obscure programing "languages" to start with - google plex and ASA if you want to wake up screaming... So you outsource that to India or China or wherever, with no real documentation and nobody to tell you what the code is _supposed_ to be doing and you are in barny!

never, never, mever, never, never, never etc outsource mission critical programming. NEVER. (ever)

...or the conspiracy angle: they have to recoup the rediculous costs they incurred buying those 3G frequency bands a few years ago somehow, right? Charge the loyal customers up the arse and "Blame Bangalor?"

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Outsourcing is not the problem!

Regardless of what they have or have not outsourced, whoever (miss)managed the programme is responsible for setting themselves up to fail.

Clearly they also had no fall-back position in case it went bang, you would hope they won't make that mistake again.

And all 100% predictable, oops...

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Just as Vodafone workers have warned

Vodafone's workers have been warning the company for years that by outsourcing parts of the operation to another company that do it on the cheap will only have one effect....reduction in the quality of experience received by customers.

Unfortunately the company is ignoring those closest to its customers and continuing with their policy out piecemeal outsourcing. Connect, the union that represents Vodafone's workers is campaigning against this.

http://connectinvodafone.blogspot.com/

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@Just as Vodafone workers have warned

"...reduction in the quality of experience received by customers."

Given that everytime I had to ring up Vodafone CS, all of 3 times in 8 years and everytime they've managed to make serious errors resulting in several pages of complaints (er, ok the deal is still cheap and the roaming was better and coverage is far better than other providers where I live), I guess that "quality" should be pre-fixed with "low" or "poor".

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Funny thing is...

...I'm with Vodafone AUS. They've just witched us to another billing company and the bill for our two mobiles just went DOWN a significant amount.

Not complaining - still looking at the bill and trying to figure it out as the call listing looks kosher.

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Anonymous Coward

Outsourcing may be good for Vodafone, actually...

At least then, someone will make decisions.

Generally, while I would agree with most here that outsourcing is a bad idea, I would say that for a company that is run as badly as Vodafone, outsourcing actually makes good sense overall. It's can't POSSIBLY be as bad as them trying to run operations in-house. Believe me, I know all about it.

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Has Vodafone fixed its problems?

The front page of the online billing is reporting my current bill is expected to be £-56.74. This is the first time it's been negative. Perhaps they've finally worked out by how much they've overcharged me! A few weeks ago I had a mysterious credit for calls whilst in the USA. I haven't been to the USA. No one at Vodafone could explain why this credit was there and there was no record of who'd applied the credit to my account either. Vodafone's billing system is full of holes too, eg text messages to Guernsey mobiles are included in message bundles, yet calls to the same numbers are not, but calls to Guernsey landlines are included. Guernsey is not in the UK, but has a normal UK dialling code. With Vodafone about to start putting up masts in Guernsey you'd have thought they'd have figured out a consistent charging policy by now.

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