Telco to compensate over-charged customers
Vodafone has admitted to making false or misleading representations about its third-party Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) service and will contact and refund affected customers, following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Vodafone admitted that it was likely it had breached the law by charging consumers for content they had not agreed to buy or had purchased unknowingly.
Vodafone has given a court enforceable undertaking relating to the billing service, which charged Vodafone customers for ringtones, games and other digital content provided by third parties.
The DCB service was automatically enabled on Vodafone customers’ mobile accounts, and purchases could occur with as little as one or two clicks. The purchases would then be charged on the customers’ next Vodafone bill.
The content was marketed and provided by third parties who paid Vodafone commissions for sales to its customers.
“Through this service, thousands of Vodafone customers ended up being charged for content that they did not want or need, and were completely unaware that they had purchased,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
Vodafone has undertaken to contact potentially affected customers and offer refunds where appropriate. It will also review any complaints and deal with those customers in good faith.
“Other companies should note, money made by misleading consumers will need to be repaid,” Mr Sims said.
In response to an increase in complaints about the service during 2014 and 2015, Vodafone began phasing out DCB subscriptions in mid-2015, and cancelled its arrangements with certain third-party providers of digital content.
However, consumers could still be charged for one-off purchases without any identity verification until March 2018.
Vodafone customers are encouraged to check their Vodafone mobile account and if they believe unauthorised charges were applied, they should contact Vodafone on 1300 650 410.
Are you a Vodafone customer? Do you think that you have been charged for content you did not agree to buy?