Vodafone fined $165k for false price representations

Fourth Fair Trading Act strike for Vodafone in the past five years.

Vodafone has been fined $165,000 by the Auckland District Court after admitting to over-charging some customers for a mobile plan.

The telco was taken to task by the Commerce Commission when it filed charges in May for invoices sent to customers who signed up to the ‘Red Essentials’ plan between January and December 2014.

Red Essentials was launched at $79 per month in August 2013 but it later reduced the price to $69 in January 2014 in response to market competition.

But customers who signed up before January were still left paying the $79 per month after Vodafone’s billing system failed to pick up the change.

This affected some 15,000 customers, who were overcharged a combined total of $92,000, the ComCom says.

Customers have been refunded.

In a statement Vodafone says, “Since the error was identified, Vodafone has made considerable changes to the way in which discounts are applied to customer accounts and processes put into place to ensure backdating is accurately recorded.

“Vodafone accepts the penalty of $165,000 and acknowledges that the customer service in this instance did not meet our own standards nor customers’ expectations.

“Throughout the proceedings, Vodafone fully cooperated with the Commission and has demonstrated that corrective action has been put in place to avoid repetition of similar customer service errors.”

This is the fourth Fair Trading Act strike for Vodafone in the past five years.

  • In August 2011 Vodafone was fined over $400,000 in relation to misleading representations about its Vodafone Live product.
  • In November 2011 Vodafone was fined $82,000 for misleading mobile customers over its $1 a day data charges
  • In September 2012 Vodafone was fined $960,000 in relation to advertising campaigns run from October 2006-February 2009 for various broadband and mobile phone promotions including Broadband everywhereSupa Prepay Connection Pack and Largest 3G Network.
  • Separately, in January 2014 Vodafone paid out over $260,000 to customers in a settlement reached with the Commission concerning the company’s promotion of the Broadband Lite service.

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