OUCH, Irish ComReg sanctions Vodafone for paper bill penalties

November 1, 2011  |  Adoption, Electronic Invoicing, Legal

Penalty yellow card 225x225 OUCH, Irish ComReg sanctions Vodafone for paper bill penaltiesThe Irish communications watchdog, ComReg, sanctioned Vodafone for switching from postal to email billing, while charging customers EUR 2,- for each paper bill. Yes, that is right. The 200.000 customers affected, complained against this sudden change of customer service. And ComReg stepped in. Just like with O2 last October.

The mobile operator recently began informing customers that they would in future be receiving their bills online in stead of by mail. The move was expected to affect just under 200,000 of the company’s 2.4 million customers. However ComReg’s intervention will end the practice for these 200.000 customers.

The ComReg ruling

This is what ComReg ruled on Vodafone’s recent shift to send future bills online and charging customers Eur 2,- for each a paper bill they (want to) receive:

  • Vodafone’s electronic customer billing plans (e-billing) are in breach with its licence agreement.
  • ComReg recognises the desire by providers of electronic communications services to move their customers to e-billing and understands the potential benefits accruing from increased take-up of e-billing (including cost and environmental benefits).
  • ComReg also recognises the desire by some consumers of electronic communications services to move to e-billing.
  • However, as ComReg has previously made clear, any move to e-billing should take full account of, and safeguard the legitimate preferences and interests of consumers and comply fully with licence and other applicable legal requirements.
  • Vodafone has to hold off switching subscribers until a consultation process on online billing is completed.
  • The consultation process was launched after a similar move by rival operator O2 last October resulted in the communications regulator threatening the company with court action if it continued to switch customers to online billing.
  • Vodafone has not complied with its obligations, it may apply to the High Court for such order as may be appropriate by way of compliance with those obligations.

In plain English: Comreg has criticised Vodafone’s e-billing plan and reminded the firm’s customers that they are entitled to receive a paper bill from their mobile operator, at no charge. Ouch.

Vodafone’s response

And this is how Vodafone responded to the ruling:

  • It was following in the footsteps of rival operators in switching subscribers to online billing.
  • The move was also influenced by customer feedback.
  • Vodafone fully recognises that the current policy doesn’t answer all customers’ needs
  • It remains optional for Vodafone customers to receive paper bills.
  • Customers who decide to continue to receive paper bills will not be charged extra.
  • This year’s savings achieved from switching customers to online billing has been put towards a country-wide tree planting programme.

Perhaps Vodafone and other companies that consider a penalty based e-billing on-boarding strategy, can use the Alaska Communications Agency as and example.


Related Posts

  1. ComReg notifies O2 of non-compliance with respect to e-billing
  2. Bill switch from paper to online leads to water disconnect
  3. End of free paper bills for T-mobile users
  4. Alaska Communications Services wants to offer a $5 one-time credit for those who shift to electronic billing
  5. Bank of Ireland cuts back on use of paper bills

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