Vodafone to reimburse overcharged Wap customers

5 Nov 2004

Ireland’s largest mobile network operator Vodafone this afternoon said that it is crediting Wap customers who have been overcharged due to what the operator describes as “a WAP billing discrepancy”.

It is understood that some 550,000 WAP users were overcharged by less than €1, but the resultant reimbursement process over the next few days will cost the company €2.65m.

In a statement this afternoon the company said that a billing inaccuracy was discovered during an internal review of all Vodafone’s billing and tariffs sparked by an overcharging incident last June.

The identified issue related to incorrect ratings for certain categories of Wap URLs. The subsequent detailed appraisal of Vodafone’s billing processes for Wap services involved the examination of more than 500 million Wap impressions and some 20 million unique URLs involving data collected over a 19-month period. The detailed review enabled the impact of the issue on individual customers to be calculated.

At the request of the company, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) conducted an independent review of the arithmetical accuracy of the impact calculations. The impacted customers were over-billed by on average 25 cent per customer per month or in total an average of less than €5 each, Vodafone says. In parallel, PwC also carried out an independent review of the change control procedures for Vodafone tariff changes and has made recommendations for improvements in controls.

As 550,000 Wap customers were affected, the resulting total overcharge figure was €2.65m. Almost half of those affected were overcharged by amounts of less than €1.

It is anticipated that all Vodafone customers impacted will have been fully reimbursed within the next 48 hours. Each customer will also receive a compensatory payment of 10pc of the overcharged amount.

Vodafone Ireland CEO Paul Donovan (pictured) said this afternoon: “I want to assure our customers of our absolute commitment to even-handed and honest behaviours at all times. We apologise to any customers impacted by this incident. I want to reassure them that their accounts are being appropriately credited and we are applying an additional compensatory payment to recompense for any inconvenience. This issue, which has its origin in system changes that took place over a year ago, was identified through our recent internal review. Given the complexity of the issue, we brought in PwC to assist us in identifying the extent of the problem and support us in calculating the appropriate customer credits. We consider this action to be in the best interests of our customers and our shareholders.

“It is an unfortunate fact of commercial life that human errors can occur in the course of manually inputting into systems. However, if we make mistakes, we are committed to fully addressing them and putting them right. With PwC’s support we are also making changes to our Wap billing processes and deploying additional resources thereby underpinning our commitment to a continuous cycle of process improvements.”

By John Kennedy