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CEO admits Vodafone will miss deadline to resolve billing issues

Alex Yau
November 28, 2016

Vittorio Colao says full resolution to customer migration problems is taking longer than expected

Vodafone will miss its promised deadline to resolve all major billing issues by Q3 after admitting a resolution to the problems is taking longer than expected.

The operator was fined £4.6 million by Ofcom last month following various problems migrating 28.5 million customer accounts from seven billing platforms to one. Issues moving these connections led to several high-profile cases of customers being charged incorrectly and placed on the wrong tariffs.

Vodafone revealed in June that it was spending £15 million on improving its back office customer service systems following a surge in complaints over the past year.

It was to add 600 new customer advisors and establish a 400-strong team to focus on resolving complex issues or complaints, supported by 40 new managers.

An additional 72,000 extra hours of training had also been provided to help resolve these hiccups. Group CEO Vittorio Colao (pictured) had initially promised this would help combat all issues by the end of its Q3.

Issues remain

However, despite claiming the investment is paying off, with complaints calls continuing to fall and billing errors a third of what they had been, he told Mobile News at a media briefing for the operator’s H1 financial results that the target will be missed as a full resolution is taking longer than expected.

Describing its performance in the UK during the first half of its financial year as “mixed”, Colao said: “The (£15 million) investment is paying off because we have seen a reduction in complaints from customers. We are not completely back to normal. We still have some issues.

“Since the migration, we had to move 28.5 million accounts from seven systems to one.

“The number of complaints calls has reduced and [customers] are happier once they call us. Billing mistakes are now a third of what they used to be.

“Fixing the problems will take longer than what was previously expected. The concept of getting it resolved will require a
lot of work.

“Every company has some problems. I could project the line and date, but I’d prefer to say we are working flat out to work as hard as possible and invest as much as possible.”

In Ofcom’s most recent ‘Telecoms and Pay TV Complaints’ report, Vodafone became the UK’s most complained about operator for the seventh consecutive quarter. It had received 23 complaints per 100,000 customers, with the operator citing problems with the billing system as the main cause.

Three UK CEO Dave Dyson


Colao also hit out at rival Three around its wish for Ofcom to impose a cap on the amount of spectrum operators can hold after the next auction, labelling its intentions “invasive”.

In September, Three UK CEO Dave Dyson accused both Vodafone and EE of “stockpiling” unused spectrum and claimed they were denying both O2 and Three the opportunity for growth.

Vodafone and EE currently account for more than 70 per cent of UK spectrum together, while Three and O2 have 15 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.

Dyson had urged the telecoms regulator to put a 30 per cent cap in place in an attempt to create more even competition in the mobile operator space.

However, Colao hit back at those claims and said: “We’ve invested to deliver a quality network. I find it surprising and invasive when a competitor demands a cap on our spectrum.

“It might be frustrating if you have a lower quality network. I understand that, but at the end of the day we have the type of service which offers customers good quality. What gives anyone the right to judge that?”

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