Vodafone has been telling users of its pay-as-you-go service that they’re hundreds of pounds in arrears—impossibly because these users never had a contract with the mobile provider.
PAYG mobile customers have taken to Vodafone’s customer forum and to social media to complain about the unsettling notices on their accounts.
All tell a similar story: despite never having held a contract with Vodafone, their account balances on Vodafone’s app and website show they owe hundreds of pounds.
One customer wrote on a Vodafone forum: "I am a PAYG customer. My dashboard tells me I am in arrears of £452.91 and it went up by £50 on the day I started making enquiries about it.
“I've tried Customer Service several times, Vodafone's complaints team three times and visited my local Vodafone shop twice.
"Everyone says I don't owe anything but the dashboard clearly states that my ‘account is in arrears’ and when I click through to 'make payment' the debt is given as £452.91.”
While Vodafone hasn’t pursued these customers for the money owed, they’re still worried the substantial debt will impact their credit scores. They’re also worried Vodafone could cut off service to their phones over the false arrears.
PAYG customers can’t accrue debt because they pay, upfront, for all the minutes, texts and data they use.
Vodafone acknowledges that customers don’t actually owe the money their accounts show they do but admits it doesn’t know why the error is happening.
When This is Money approached Vodafone about the case of Mandy, a PAYG customer told she is £108.30 in arrears, the mobile operator apologised.
“We apologise to Mandy for the inconvenience caused by our mistake—we have topped up her account with £20 of credit as a gesture of goodwill,” a spokesperson said.
Others have reported difficulty getting an answer from Vodafone about why their balance is incorrect and how to remove the arrears.
In response to a complaint on its website, Vodafone has said affected PAYG customers should contact the network on 191, through its LiveChat service or Vodafone Social Media Team's Complaints.
PAYG mobile users haven’t had an easy time of it in recent years. O2 has shuttered its traditional PAYG service, while Vodafone and Three dramatically increased PAYG prices in an effort to push classic users toward bundles.
Virgin Media announced in July that it will shutter its PAYG service entirely between October 2021 and January 2022, with users needing to switch to pay-monthly contracts or see their SIM stop working.
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