Vodafone has given some customers the option to terminate their contracts early, without penalty, thanks to an intervention from Oftel.
The telecoms regulator was forced to step in after Vodafone introduced, this spring, a new roaming charge for customers travelling in 60 countries outside of the EU. Vodafone signalled this change by texting customers about the new charges.
Under the new rules, customers no longer to send a text to be charged, just signing up to activate the roaming option would cost users £5 a day. It would be particularly expensive on customers who were used to sending one or two texts a day and who would no longer be charged on a pay-per-use basis.
Oftel pointed out that the operator had failed to offer clear guidance on its text messages and had not addressed the concerns of all the users who could have been hit by the new charges.
After Ofcom’s intervention, Vodafone had to send another text message to the customers it originally contacted, and to additional customers that may have also been affected. This message clearly informed customers of their rights, giving them 30 days to exit their contract without penalty if they chose to do so. The company also had to refund any customers who had been hit by the new roaming charge.
Vodafone is also updating processes to ensure that in future, it would be better able to assess whether customers would be affected by any major changes.