Yesterday a long-running “difficulty” with Vodafone was finally resolved. Maybe. After more than a year, a refund cheque arrived. But thanks to Vodafone’s continued incompetence I may not be able to deposit that cheque.
The cheque is for the $9.89 credit remaining on my account when I stopped doing business with Vodafone in November 2008. That it took so long to get that money is a story in itself, and it’s told over the jump.
The stupidity, however, is that after all this hassle Vodafone has made out the cheque to “Stilgherrian Pty Ltd”, as if I’m a company.
How does any competent organisation do that? Especially when there was no “Pty Ltd” in my account details? Especially when I specifically requested in writing for the cheque to be made out to “Stilgherrian”?
Fortunately I’m known at my local Westpac bank branch, so maybe they’ll allow me to deposit the cheque. I’ll let you know how I go.
Other people have told me they’ve had trouble getting Vodafone to refund money too, and had to drop the magic words “Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman” before they saw any action. While in my case the figure was less than $10, if Vodafone is consistently failing to pay out credits then it would amount to a significant scam.
Not good enough, Vodafone. If you owe people money, you return it to them. Promptly. Without questions. And if it takes longer than a couple of weeks you apologise for the delay.
Stilgherrian vs Vodafone
Back in November 2008 I closed my account with Vodafone and moved to Virgin Mobile. After everything was settled, I was left with a credit of $9.89.
No big deal, I figured they’d send a refund in due course.
However Vodafone had other plans. Over the following months they continued to invoice me, charging me $2.20 each month for mailing me a paper bill and nothing else.
My credit declined from $9.89 to $7.69 to $5.49 to… well, into the red again.
I figured that at this point Vodafone would notice that it was a closed account and stop being so silly. Surely they have a system that notices this sort of thing?
In December 2009 I decided to get in touch. Since life’s too short to deal with telco call centres, I sent them a letter.
[G]iven that I ceased being a customer of yours in December 2008 [it was actually November, but I was working from memory], I reckon itâ€™s probably time you caught up with that fact and stopped sending me bills at all.
I reckon your next communication should be to wipe out this tiny debt â€“ given that there was actually a credit owed to me, and you were just billing me for sending me bills. Yeah?
Vodafone never replied.
Then last month, instead of a $2.20 charge for a paper bill, Vodafone invented something new. A $9.91 “account admin” fee.
I was not impressed. I sent another letter.
Itâ€™s getting beyond a joke now. Not only have you continued to bill me after the account was closed for more than a year, not only have you ignored my letter of 30 December (copy attached), youâ€™re now just making up charges!
â€œAccount Adminâ€ for $9.91?
There was $9.89 owing me when we ceased doing business. I was going to let that slide but, now that I think about, why should you get away with incompetence?
Please reverse all charges youâ€™ve claimed since we stopped doing business in December 2008 and send a cheque for the amount owed of $9.89 made out to â€œStilgherrianâ€. I expect this to be done within 14 days.
Well, 12 days later I got an email. Buried in the masses of confusing text generated by Vodafone’s customer service system was this confusing message:
I have adjusted the paper bill charges that appeared on your closed account.
The balance is now $0.00 and you will not receive any further statements from Vodafone.
Please note we are unable to refund the amount that was once on the account as Finance Team have noted the account that the refund was not applicable as the Bank was authorised to reverse the payment to Vodafone.
Unimpressed, I replied by email:
This sentence … “Please note we are unable to refund the amount that was once on the account as Finance Team have noted the account that the refund was not applicable as the Bank was authorised to reverse the payment to Vodafone.” … makes no sense.
There was once an accidental payment which was indeed reversed, but that [is] not what I am talking about.
I refer to the amount of $9.89 credit on the account as at 20 December 2008. I do expect that to be paid.
I know it’s a small thing, but if this sort of activity happen[s] across many customers it soon adds up, and it’s not acceptable. If you owe someone money, you pay it. You don’t make waffly bureaucratic excuses about “Finance Team have noted the account that the refund was not applicable”. You fix your processes, apologise for the inconvenience, and return the money.
This should be a simple matter, surely?
Also, your standard email response form is rubbish. “Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support centre”? No, I did not.
When will your cheque be arriving?
The cheque arrived yesterday. Made out to “Stilgherrian Pty Ltd”. Arsehats.