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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Saturday, 27 January 2007
Are Vodafone creaming double payments of prepaid mobile service?
Mood:  surprised
Topic: corporates

What's in an automated audio 'payment received' confirmation, complete with reference number which was standard until 2 months ago, but now is omitted when you recharge direct on #1511 on your mobile? A double payment in the confusion for thousands of customers?

This could be trivial or quite serious shonky corporate behaviour affecting thousands of consumers:

I don't get the 'payment received' confirmation audio (via say a payment reference no.) which we have grown to expect after requesting a recharge using the automated prompts. That is until about 2 months ago.

Lack of payment confirmation by the automated system leaves open the anxiety the mobile service is not effectively renewed for an extra month. I might miss that crucial phone call. So I repeat the process on the audio prompts.

The only confirmation of payment becoms the phone enlivened again, and the bank statement with double payment notified some weeks later.

The confusion arises from the change of automated system such that no payment confirmation is provided. How many hundreds or thousands of customers felt the same and double paid?

I am willing to guess say 1,000 out of a big client base, which is a nice little $49,000 extra profit. Or was it 10,000 customers which makes it $490,000?

We await the response of Vodafone to this correspondence:

----- Original Message -----
From: Vodafone
To: ecologya@xxxxxx
Sent: Friday, January 26, 2007 11:04 AM
Subject: My number is 0410 55xxxx. I got no receipt number back on the audio, on my pr... [Incident:070126-000050]

Your question has been received. You should expect a response from us within three business days. Our operating hours are Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

If you do reply, you MUST enter your response in the space below as this is an automated system. Text entered into any other part of this message will be discarded. Alternatively you can click on the link below.

Question Reference No070126-000050
Summary: My number is 0410 55xxxx. I got no receipt number back on the audio, on my pr...
Product Level 1: My Account (online billing)
Date Created: 26/01/2007 11:04 AM
Last Updated: 26/01/2007 11:04 AM
Status: Unresolved

Discussion Thread
Customer (Tom McLoughlin) 26/01/2007 11:04 AM
My number is 0410 55xxxx.

I got no receipt number back on the audio, on my pre pay for January (paid by phone instruction Dec 29), so I did the process again thinking it was cancelled.

My bank statement shows two deductions on Dec 29 of $49 x 2.

I only got the benefit of one month roughly. It's run out on Jan 24th and I think its fair you reimburse me the $49 value for this coming month. What do you reckon?

Will you do the right thing? It only happened because previously you used to issue an audio invoice number, but now it seems not, and that fooled me the transaction was back to the start, hence the repetition.

I am a lawyer actually and though it's a trivial amount I am thinking vodafone may have a PR problem with this if it has happened a great deal after changing with no invoice number issued like before. Confirmation of payment only came with the phone staying live, and the bank statement.

I think I will copy this email for say a little crikey.com.au rainy day.

Yours truly, Tom McLoughlin Marrickville Sydney

Postscript #1 Vodofane do the right thing

After much clunky to and fro, especially identifying my 4 digit code number, which must have been chosen years ago when I took the account, Vodafone have sent this today:

"30/01/2007 02:38 PM

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your reply.

I have now applied the $230.00 credit to your account and have extended the credit expiry date for a further 30 days (from 26/02/07 to the 26/03/2007).

Once again we regret that the receipt details were not provided to you upon your recharge and the inconvenience that has been caused to you as a result of this.

Now that your enquiry password has been updated to your profile you will not be required to provide this information when submitting future enquiries via this medium (providing they are sent from the same email address).

Thank you again for your email and for allowing us to be of assistance to you.

[The message from Vodafone above was in response to this]

Customer (Tom McLoughlin) 30/01/2007 02:11 PM

Mmm, the mystery of why the technology did not confirm the payment is interesting. One hopes its not some eavesdropper to my phone interfering with the signal in my line of work. In any case my code is XXXX and I've updated it to XXXX which is easier to remember for me. Thanks.

Posted by editor at 8:18 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007 5:15 AM EADT

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