Vodafone fined $350,000 for billing former customers
By Paul McBeth
May 1 (BusinessDesk) - Vodafone New Zealand has been fined $350,000 for charging more than 29,000 customers after the
end date of cancelled contracts with the country's biggest mobile carrier.
The telco was today sentenced in the Auckland District Court after pleading guilty to 14 Fair Trading Act charges
brought by the Commerce Commission for making false representations in the invoices it sent to affected customers
between January 2012 and December 2018.
Those customers overpaid about $285,000 for bills that included charges beyond the agreed date of termination. The
company said it has applied credits to the accounts of all current and former customers and undertaken to reimburse
them. Where the telco hasn't been able to find the customers, it's donated the equivalent amount to charity via its
Vodafone New Zealand Foundation.
"Customers have the right to expect businesses to invoice them accurately and it is vital businesses take care to ensure
their billing systems and processes are doing that,” Commerce Commission competition and consumer general manager
Antonia Horrocks said in a statement.
"For a large proportion of the affected invoices in this case, Vodafone relied on staff to manually adjust them but did
not take adequate steps to ensure that process was being consistently followed. As a result, tens of thousands of
customers were left out of pocket," she said.
The commission said Judge Evangelos Thomas described the representations as careless and that a deterrent penalty was
Vodafone chief executive Jason Paris apologised for the error, saying it resulted from a combination of unintentional
system and human errors which have since been fixed. Customers were overcharged $9.70 on average.
"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," he