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Vodafone facing fine after Ofcom complaints verdict

James Pearce
June 6, 2016

Regulator found reasonable grounds to believe Vodafone had breached rules following investigation into customer complaints handling

Vodafone could be hit with a fine worth up to 10 per cent of its annual turnover after Ofcom found it had failed to deal with complaints properly.

Vodafone UK posted service revenues for £5.85 billion for the last financial year, meaning the operator could be hit with a fine of up to £585 million, although this is unlikely.

The regulator had launched an investigation in to Vodafone’s complaint handling and found there are “reasonable grounds for believing” the operator did not have correct complaint handling procedures in place.

Under Ofcom’s 14.4 rule, operators must offer “Alternative dispute resolution” schemes to customers.

Ofcom said: “Specifically, Ofcom has reasonable grounds to believe that Vodafone contravened GC 14.4 by:

“1) not having procedures, as required by paragraph 3 of the Ofcom Approved Code of Practice for Complaints Handling (the “Code of Practice”), that were effective to “ensure” the fair and timely resolution of Complaints, to clearly established timeframes; and

“2) not securing, as required by paragraph 4(d) of the Code of Practice, that a Written Notification was sent to customers if a Complaint (as defined in the Code of Practice) remained unresolved after 8 weeks and no relevant exceptions applied.”

The investigation relates to a fairly wide period between January 1 2014 and November 5 2015.

According to Ofcom figures, Vodafone is the most complained-about network in the UK. In March this year, the number of customers complaining about Vodafone rose from 20 to 32 per 100,000.

The company now has a chance to respond before Ofcom announces its final decision.

A spokesperson for Vodafone said: “We note Ofcom’s statement on this investigation, with which we have been cooperating fully. We will be reviewing the Ofcom report in detail before deciding what representations to make.”

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