Vodafone has apologised for a “technical error” saw customers roaming outside the UK receive huge bills and left unable to access call, voice or data services.
Notifications sent to customers abroad said they had racked up bills of hundreds and even thousands of pounds or that they had exceeded their data allowance despite evidence to the contrary.
Some were even disconnected from the network entirely – leaving them unable to contact Vodafone to seek a resolution.
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“We are very sorry that yesterday, some customers could not use data or calling services when roaming abroad,” said a Vodafone spokesperson. “This was due to a technical error, which we have now fixed.
"Any affected customer should restart their phone to ensure that services are resumed. As a result of the issue, some customers are receiving billing messages in error; we are working through these as an urgent priority and removing any errors from customer accounts.
“Customers will not be charged and do not need to worry about contacting us as we are proactively checking accounts and fixing any issues.”
Users affected complained of the stress and inconvenience caused by the situation. In 2017, roaming charges within the EU were abolished – a move designed not just to facilitate cross-border communication between member states, but also to reduce the risk of bill shock. Prior to this, many mobile users would switch mobile data off before travelling because of such fears.
“The fact that this can still happen is incredibly disappointing and I would expect Ofcom to show a keen interest in how this is resolved” said Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at uSwitch.
“The onus has to be on mobile phone operators to proactively fix this for anyone who is out of pocket, and it is also important to acknowledge the knock-on effects this could have on their customers’ finances.”
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.