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Vodafone in ‘cynical’ move to win back customer support

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Apr 21, 2017

In a rather loud fanfare, Vodafone has announced it’s abolishing roaming charges in over 40 countries.

This means customers will be able to use their package of minutes, data and texts abroad just as they would at home with no extra charge.

But …

It’s only for new customers or those who are upgrading.

AND, the changes, which affect only pay monthly customers, come into play just weeks before an EU ruling comes into effect on 11 June that bans roaming charges anyway.

Vodafone says it’s the first UK operator to abolish the charges in 40 destinations.

If you head outside Europe, though, you’ll need to pay £5 a day to use data.

The 40 countries include non-EU members Turkey, Switzerland and the Channel Islands.

Three, though, has already abolished roaming charges to most European countries including France, Spain, Greece and Germany as well as countries further afield such as the USA, Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

The change appears to be part of a drive to win back customer favour after a recent report from Ofcom, the telecoms watchdog found Vodafone was the most complained about mobile network.

Last year, Vodafone was fined a record £4.6m for repeated customer service failings. 

Vodafone’s UK CEO said, “Customers have told us they want us and the rest of the industry to change.”

Other changes include:

* Flexible upgrades – pay monthly customers will now be able to upgrade six months into their contract with a flexible upgrade fee and the ability to sell your existing phone back to Vodafone to offset the upgrade.

* Simpler contracts – contracts will be split into three types making choice simpler, running from ‘essentials, with up to 500 minutes through to Red Entertainment, which will offer up to 60GB of data.

* More call centre staff – surveys have repeatedly shown customers hate their experiences with the company’s call centre staff, so Vodafone are hiring thousands more staff.

* Robots to handle queries – Vodafone’s webchat will be handled by robots that will be equipped to deal with a range of queries. What they can’t handle will be passed to human advisors.

How effective these changes prove to be in winning back customer satisfaction remains to be seen.

Consumer expert Fred Isaac, from A Spokesman Said, commented, “Scrapping roaming charges shortly before they’ll have to drop them under EU rules smacks of a cynical move to me.

“And not offering a great deal like this to existing customers is always a great way to make loyal customers feel lousy about a company. And webchat run by AI…well that will be interesting!”

What do you think of Vodafone's announcement? Decent offer? Or cynical ploy?

Head to the comments section below to join the debate.

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