Vodafone fined $350k for overcharging customers

Vodafone has been fined $350,000 for overcharging customers. Photo credit: Getty

Vodafone has been fined $350,000 for overcharging customers over a six-year period.

The telecommunications company appeared in Auckland District Court on Wednesday charged with breaches of the Fair Trading Act, to which it pleaded guilty in February.

Between 2012 and 2018, 29,425 customers were overcharged for their monthly bills. The errors occurred when customers notified Vodafone they would no longer be using its services, and had a new billing cycle begin within that notice period of termination. 

Vodafone mistakenly generated an invoice for another full month, rather than just for the days remaining in the notice period, resulting in affected customers being overcharged an average of $9.70 each. The incorrect billing was caused by a combination of "unintentional system and human errors" which Vodafone says it has resolved.

All current customers who were overcharged have received credits on their Vodafone accounts, and the company is currently attempting to contact and reimburse former customers who paid too much.

If Vodafone has been unable to track down an affected person, it has donated the equivalent of their unclaimed credit balance to charity via the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation. Any of these people that do make contact with the company in future will still be reimbursed.

"Every customer deserves an accurate bill every month," Vodafone CEO Jason Paris said in a statement. "We clearly fell well short of that in this instance, and for that I apologise. If you get it wrong, you should put your hand up, acknowledge it, and make it right.

"I want to reassure customers Vodafone has not profited in any way from these historical billing errors, and we have subsequently invested significant time and money into improving our systems and processes to prevent a recurrence."