Vodafone has been fined £4.6m by Ofcom for mis-selling services, inaccurate billing and poor complaints handling.
The fine was announced today (October 26) for what Ofcom called “serious and sustained breaches of consumer protection rules”.
The fine is the result of two investigations carried out by Ofcom to review Vodafone’s code of practice.
The first investigation found the provider had not complied with Ofcom’s rule to send a written notification to consumers whose complaint had remained unresolved for eight weeks.
The notification should inform complainants on their right to a free alternative dispute resolution.
Ofcom said: “Vodafone provided its frontline customer services staff with insufficient and ambiguous information on when to treat a customer’s call as a complaint.”
For this breach of compliance, that Ofcom believes happened between January 2014 and November 2015, Vodafone has been fined £925,000.
The second investigation found the company had given more than 10,000 of its customers’ incorrect information when they purchased ‘top ups’ for pay-as-you-go mobiles via e-top up methods.
These methods include the use of ATMs, direct debits, e-pack purchases, swipe cards and mobile ATM top-ups.
The wrong information given meant customers were billed incorrectly for the services they received. Ofcom said these customers collectively lost £150,000.
It believes this act of misconduct reflected the period between May 2011 and September 2015 and fined the Vodafone £3.7m.
The total sum of £4.6m must be paid to Ofcom within 20 days.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom consumer group director, said: “Vodafone’s failings were serious and unacceptable.
“Phone services are a vital part of people’s lives and we expect all customers to be treated fairly and in good faith. We will not hesitate to investigate and fine those who break the rules.”