One of Ireland’s most popular mobile operators is slapped with a fine due to breach of contract change rules.
Vodafone has issued more than €2.5m to pay-as-you go customers who were included in its Red Roaming package in March of this year. As well as the customer payout, the company was fined €250,000 by statutory communications regulator, ComReg.
ComReg took issue with the automatic signup process implemented by Vodafone with the Red Roaming package. The Red Roaming offer meant customers could pay €3 while using their Vodafone plan in the EU, which would supply them with a limited amount of data and unlimited calls and texts.
ComReg found that the manner in which the contract change was implemented by Vodafone was contrary to Universal Service Regulations as well as ComReg’s requirements for contract change notifications.
EU roaming regulations
While it is now possible to use your phone without incurring extra costs from anywhere in the EU since new legislation was implemented in June 2017, ComReg’s investigation predates these ‘Roam Like at Home’ regulations.
The investigation was focused on Vodafone’s terms and conditions changes in March of 2016, which automatically included pay-as-you-go customers in the Red Roaming package.
Vodafone has said it will not be using automatic opt-in in future contract changes, and accepted it was in breach of contract change rules.
A spokesperson from Vodafone Ireland said: “All Vodafone Pay as You Go customers who roamed on Red Roaming and did not receive the full benefit of the offer, received a credit for the appropriate amount from Vodafone Ireland in June and July 2017. Vodafone made a decision to apply credits in the best interest of customers who did not benefit from the value inherent in the Red Roaming package.”
Vodafone added that, since mid-June 2017, its pay-as-you-go customers have been availing of their home tariff when roaming abroad, with the same call and data allowance and no extra surcharges or hidden costs.
“The company takes customer service very seriously and apologises to all impacted customers. Vodafone has taken measures to ensure that this does not reoccur,” the spokesperson said.
Vodafone reimbursed financially affected customers
For those users financially affected by the automatic opt-in, the average amount returned was about €10.
According to The Irish Times, Vodafone has also promised to display on its website that the Red Roaming package is now the default option for outside-EU roaming.
The spokesperson said: “It became apparent from customer queries, the company’s own analysis and input from ComReg that not all Vodafone customers were benefitting from the value in the proposition and credits were applied to address this.”
Updated, Wednesday 4 October 2017 at 2.40pm: This article has been amended from the original version which incorrectly linked ComReg’s investigation into Vodafone and subsequent fine with the EU Digital Single Market regulations for communications roaming which came into effect in June 2017. Reference to these changes have been removed for clarification purposes, and further comments from a Vodafone spokesperson have been added. Silicon Republic regrets this error.