back to article Vodafone billing woes continue

Vodafone's billing system continues to throw out random invoices, while denying customers access to their online billing. What is more, even the simple matter of issuing paper-based bills has become impossible as the firm's contractor, Amdocs, continues to struggle to implement a working billing system. Voda coughed to billing …

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Anonymous Coward

Can't be too bad

Well, their billing system can't be as bad as Bulldog's. Their billing system seems to be a randon number generator. My supposed flat rate broadband would produce bills (occaisionally) ranging from -£2.68 to over 40 quid.

Bonkers.

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Not the only ones

They're not the only ones with problems, anyone tried downloading a copy of their Orange bill lately?!

I've not managed to download one for a few weeks so I got hold of Orange, and they told me theres a Global issue at the moment so if you want a copy of your Bill you'll have to ask them to post you one!

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You get what you pay for

Always amuses me to read stuff like this.

Having worked with many outsourcing companies, including the ones mentioned, it comes as no shock to hear that they appear to be staffed by a bunch of minimum-wage monkeys who couldn't care less about the job at hand.

Yet still the march for cheap labour rolls on. Anything for the shareholders.

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Thanks for letting me know!

I was glad to read this story, as it's nice to have some idea why I've not been able to see my itemised bills online. Vodafone just said "I'd like to confirm that we are facing some technical problems with our online services and our technicians are working to resolve this issue" when I complained and then sent me a paper bill instead. At least that actually arrived.

It's particularly galling that the error message I get is "We’re making improvements to our web site, which means this part of the site will be down for a short while." That "short while" has been at least fifty days so far...

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Understatement!

I don't need to look very hard for a problem with my bill! They are being kind enough to invoice me for a grand total of £1.82 this month.... which includes a £17.65 *credit* for a "3G GPRS bundle" that I have never had plus a credit for a 2nd month of "Mob Internet Free Trial" which they gave me last month. The previous invoice had a credit of £2.02 for mobile data in the States that I hadn't been charged for to start with.

It wasn't worth the hassle to query last month but I think I will see what explanation they can dream up for this month's effort :-)

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Re: Can't be too bad

True, Vodafone system is not a random number generator. It is a random plan assigner.

Your bill is exactly what you would expect on the price plan you are on. There is a minor and "insignificant" detail though. Based on my experience so far, the "plan on which you are on" is randomly assigned and more expensive than what you have purchased by 20-50%.

Essentially this is a nice and "legal" venue to rip off customers if you can get away with it. I spent nearly 2 hours on the phone in August and 3 hours this month until I was put on what according to the agents was the "proper" plan. During that time I heard nearly as many excuses as when reading the classic "Dear Cretins" letter to NTL.

End of the day the products announced in their advertising literature and website have nothing to do with what they charge you for. Classic case of a company asking for a good fat ASA fine and an investigation by OFT. Hope they get slapped with one sooner rather than later.

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Jim

Paper bill? You'd be lucky.

I'm getting billed totally at random, too. I phoned up customer services, who claimed (on 4 separate occasions) that they would credit me to make up for the over-billing, but no credit has arrived.

I have asked for a paper bill, but they seem incapable of sending that out, too.

Can I use this to nullify my contract with them? I'm fed up, and I want to leave.

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Salvador Dali is art!

Hang on a minute, Salvador Dali's work is Art! Every telco billing system I've seen, and I've seen lots, are the product of some sales droids enthusiasm to get their grubby mits on as much of your money as possible by means of confusion marketing, combined with their complete inability to notify the billing department of what they're up to until customers start phoning up complaining about the bill. In fact the confusion is usually so extreme that no one really knows what the bill is, and it generally falls to some sort of agreement or acquiescence on the part of the consumer as to how much you pay, and then the billing system is quickly written using staff of dubious ability. Then you get the next wave of complaints on these bills, and they get some slightly more experienced staff to try and sort out the new mess.

Eventually they end up with loads of highly experienced contractors, who spend their time tinkering with the systems in an effort to minimise the number of customer complaints, and still maximise the take for the telco. Although it is hardly ever described in that fashion.

Then, every so often, some management type decides they're going to save loads of money by unifying their billing system and getting rid of all the contractors. Sounds and looks great on the PowerPoint slides. Unfortunately the management droid has to look up what POTS means by use of Google, so their understanding of the situation is likewise vast, not! So they get a new system, written by a bunch of part-time college students, some of who do actually study IT, so it does at least compile..

Then they get contractors in to sort out this next mess.

And so it goes.

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Check your bill carefully?

Good suggestion.

If only.

I can view the total of my bill, but if I try to drill-down into the call charges that make up that bill, I am faced with an all too familiar "we are upgrading our website" page.

The same page that has been hiding Vodafone's laughable attempt to provide online billing for the last few months.

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Anonymous Coward

EDS Contractors sat around doing nothing ....

.... where is this newsworthy, or different from standard procedure ;-)

Anonymously posted to ensure I don't get lynched by EDS colleagues :-)

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Customer service answer....

Well apparently the reason for credits this month are because last month's bill was wrong - probably true but as others have said you can't actually check the itemisation online to confirm :-( Next months bill could be interesting

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Anonymous Coward

What a surprise...

This news story hardly surprises me considering the way Vodafone deals with contracts and it's outsourced projects. Staff are kept on doing nothing because there is a ‘work order’ for 6 months or 1 year signed up to by Vodafone under the mis-information that Accenture, EDS etc. are going to do as they propose… then they change it all… that is how they keep getting work orders renewed…. I've been told all this by mid-tier management as policy.

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That reminds me

Must be time for me to call Vodafone and rant at them again - I took out a business contract and was assured that bills would be sent to the accounts department, but Vodafone set up a direct debit to my personal bank account without any authorisation. They claimed they only needed my bank details as a credit check and I expressly told them that was not to be used for billing, which they confirmed.. Since then everyone from Vodafone I've spoken to has just told me I need to speak to someone else. Not a major deal, just hassle trying to claim back each month.

This month's bill looks correct, but the website is showing £39 of calls on top of my free minutes for next month. OK, I was roaming but supposedly using the passport to do so, so the few calls I made were supposed to be a flat 65p or so. However, their online itemised billing page is broken so I can't see what they claim I used.

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Strangely

I haven't received my paper bill for this month but seeing as last month 4M of my 120M data package was free and the other 80M they charged me for I don't expect anything other than another work of fiction.

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Anonymous Coward

@Steve...

You have simply to invooke the Direct Debit Guarantee (DDG), and you will get back every penny charged to your account. Just explain to your bank's Customer Services (usually they don't even need written confirmation) that they have broken the terms of the DDG - didn't notify amounts in writing in advance and didn't have authority to make debits anyway - and the bank will charge the amounts back to Vodafone.

Note to others: never, NEVER sign a "continuous authority" for charges to be made to a credit card... it sounds the same as a Direct Debit but the protection is the other way around... the merchant can KEEP CHARGING to your card account even if you have written to them telling them to stop, for as long as they believe that you should pay up. The dangers are obvious!

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Explains everything..

Now this explains why I've been unable to get at my vodafone bills for nearly 4 months now, why they are messing up the direct debits and have so far been totally unable to provide me with paper bill so I know how much I've to pay before they try to take my money..

It also explains why everytime I've contacted they CS about the issue they have been unable to fix, it also explains the strange call I got on Monday from someone in Vodafone asking if I'd had any problems with my billing... Which would be obvious to them if they'd looked at the account records..

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direct debit

I'd be very tempted to tell them that you *require* a bill in writing prior to any amount leaving your account, and until they can actually do this you will be cancelling the direct debt.. or if they prefer simply reversing each and every one that goes out *before* the relevant bill turns up.

I'd say they are in breach of contract, not least since they will be charging you for 'itemised billing' (try opting out of that one...) well if they are not providing a service but charging you anyway, I dare say you can get something credited to your accont for 'your trouble' if you badger them.

remember how much sympathy they would show if the shoe was on the other foot.

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Anonymous Coward

*Not as bad as Bulldog's?*

For those not in the know, after Clueless & Witless bought Bulldog they installed a lot of people from Vodafone who would boast about the fact that they brought Amdocs into Vodafone. Little wonder both companies are struggling in the same department!

IT management in the Telco industry leaves a lot to be desired. Too many brown envelopes under the table for my liking.

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bet it doesn't extend to the part of the system that claims the direct debit

This is the kind of thing that makes me stay as a prepay customer as I don't trust the billing systems of any of the networks

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Anonymous Coward

Vodafone-Germany is ...

... standing at the edge ...

I'm glad to hear that Vodafone-U.K. is some steps ahead ...

:))

We're struggling with the same Outsourcing-Partners ... that's excactly the direction we are heading to ...

Good Idea to source out Vodafones IT Mr. Sarin ... !!!

Please ignore my bad english ... I'm only German ... ;-))

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That might work if .....

"I'd be very tempted to tell them that you *require* a bill in writing prior to any amount leaving your account, and until they can actually do this you will be cancelling the direct debt.. or if they prefer simply reversing each and every one that goes out *before* the relevant bill turns up."

..... you're not on their ebilling, where you are notified in email that your Vodafone bill is ready, and you can then read it online. You may have a case to claim back for itemisation if you can find out how much and where you are being charged for it. But once the main part of the bill is made available to you, however so, I reckon that it would be a lost cause to try and claim breach of contract or DD T&Cs violations.

That said, the billing system debacle at Vodafone is completely unacceptable. It is simply not good enough to outsource in the name of the shareholder and expose the company to such a situation. Heads should roll, and I am very surprised that Sir John Bond is not steering his board to commence public executions. I have worked for him before and he is a highly respected name, normally surrounding himself with people who he can no only trust but who will not let him down. His leadership successes outstrip any failures - and so this must be a great embarassment to him and the board. In his shoes, I would grab this particular bull by the horns and put it down mercilessly. Vodafone Customers (and shareholders) deserve better than the bunch of amateur management that is running the place at the moment.

I want my bill on-line and accurate. But that is not the only issue. What do we have in store for us next? Their Voicemail debacle is still apparent after very many weeks. The incumbent IT management must be replaced, its discredited policies scrapped, and the Vodafone brand put first and foremost in the decision-making process.

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