Friday, July 20, 2012

Vodafone. Can I just be no fun for a second?

When we arrived in 2006, we signed up with Vodafone for phone and DSL service.  A year or so in, Vodafone sneakily added extra charges to our phone bill that we had never signed up for.  After a few months we noticed, called them on it, and they gave us the money back that we'd paid for whatever it was.  Since we'd been burned, we then moved our phone service to O2 at the end of our Vodafone contract.  We kept Vodafone DSL.

We should have switched DSL, too.

In November 2008, Vodafone switched us over from an old account to a new account.  They never shut down the old account.  We did not realize this had happened because we continued to get only one bill in the mail. Apparently the bills for the other account were online-only and we didn't know it because we never used their website.  However, money for both accounts was coming automatically out of our bank account.  It was coming out about 15 days apart - just enough that any time I had a quick look in the account - which was the only kind of look I ever really had at the account, since it runs itself and never got super-low - I never saw both charges.  Yes, I'm an idiot, and this doesn't need to be pointed out.

In January of this year, we effectively went without pay for a month as my husband was switched over from a contract that pays on the first day of the month to one that pays on the last day of the month.  Combined with Christmas, this was ugly and I had to watch the bank account like a hawk to make sure we didn't overdraw on checking.  That's when I noticed that Vodafone was charging us twice every month.  And to my horror, I discovered it had been going on for more than three years without me noticing.

So, January 2012, we realize Vodafone has been double charging us since November 2008, and for so long they've now received approximately 1140 Euro from us for something we did not sign up for or use.

My husband dealt with this because of another of my failings - inability to deal with contractual German and phone German.  So, I'm the baddie again, but anyway.  Guess what? We're still paying for both accounts.   First we got a runaround from Vodafone that they had no idea what we were talking about, so leave them alone.  Then they told us we must have signed up for both accounts.  They told us one of them was a surfstick account, which we have never had or used. They told us they could close one if we really want, but it would take 6 months.  None of this seemed right so we started going to the store to talk to people in person instead of over the phone.  Again, we got put off week after week that someone would call us, a ticket had been filed, nothing had happened with it yet, etc.  Meanwhile, still paying an extra 30 Euro per month.  Finally a month or two ago, there just happened to be someone competent working at Vodafone while we were there.  She called in and pushed until it was figured out.  They had switched us over, and forgotten to turn off the old account.  This is their fault.  So, she said they'd close it and we were happy with that, briefly, thinking at least we could stop bleeding money-for-nothing to Vodafone.

Turns out they decided to close both our accounts.  That's not really what we intended, but fine, since we don't want to deal with Vodafone anymore anyway.  Unfortunately, one of them won't be closed until October, and the other in August. And, we still don't know which one we're actually using.  And we're still paying for both.  Since January, that's another couple hundred Euro for which we get nothing and some dick at Vodafone who is already wayyyy richer than us gets to sit on his laurels.  And, it looks like we won't be getting any of the money back, although the person on the phone could not tell my husband why not, so we still haven't figured that out. 

Anyone dealing with a DSL company other than Vodafone that they can recommend?


  1. Wow, that is unbelievably bad customer service. It doesn't help that you are also dealing with this in German. Even dealing with phone/internet companies in English is confusing enough.

    I'm using Kabel Deutschland and have found them no problems to deal with at all. Good service with very little connection downtime.

  2. I would also like to note that when I called them the first time today, I requested someone who spoke English via their answering service (I did this because I wanted to be absolutely certain if and when our DSL was to be shut off). The option for an English-speaking representative was at least four levels into the answering service tree. Then, once I finally got a person to talk to after holding for 10 minutes, they didn't even speak more than a handful of English. Finally, this "English-speaking" representative insisted (in German) that she couldn't help me because it wasn't possible for her to use my customer number to access my account (which is incorrect because they've done this every time I've called before). Thus, I was forced to call, navigate exact same tree again--this time opting out of the "English"-speaking representative--and wait another 10 minutes to talk to a representative to whom I gave my formerly useless customer number to find out the information that I wanted to know (in German).

    Libel attorneys please note: I have made no recommendations or judgements. I only stated what happened to me.

  3. I had nothing but problems with Vodafon, so I switched to Kabel Deutschland too. Excellent service and I highly recommend them.

  4. My opinion is that this is a case for a lawyer or your local consumer protection office (Verbraucherzentrale). That's way too much too money to surrender to Vodafone, even if you made mistakes of your own along the way.

    As for alternatives for DSL, I've heard bad stories from all major providers. Maybe Heidelberg has a local provider (similar to Net Cologne in, who'd guess it, Cologne). As for cable, I don't think Kabel Deutschland is in your area, instead you have Kabel BW.

  5. This happened to us, too, a few years ago. The miscreant was Telekom. It did refund our money and we are still using their service.

    It seems that more and more businesses are using bait-and-switch tactics these days. You really have to be on the qui vive.

  6. I'm with Scott. Start with a consumer protection agency. Bring as much paperwork as you can, and maybe even prepare a timeline with money calculation.

    Seriously, this is WAY too much money, and in the end it is their mistake.

  7. I wrote a whole comment and then the internet ate it. Argh.

    I would be livid if that whole Vodafone crud happened to us, and I am sure you guys are beyond peeved. I don't understand how they can get away without reimbursing you all. We had a terrible experience with Vodafone while we were there, but yours definitely takes the cake.

    On a happier note, I loved your use of "baddie." I haven't heard that word since we left Germany, and hearing it again was nice. I can't believe how homesick we are still 15 months after moving back to the States.

  8. On 25th August I purchased a new Vodafone postpaid connection from Vodafone store. I used my number for just making calls and sending SMS, which I was told are free. Now they sent me, bill of Rs. 1249.25. In the bill they have charged Rs. 649 for internet surfing & downloading & they also charged Rs. 150 for activating some Special service of Vodafone which I hadn’t activated. And when I made a call at their customer service number and discussed about my bill issue they neglect that. Company had barred my outgoing calls. And after that they use to make me calls again and again that if I won’t pay the bill amount they would suspend my Incoming service also. So I submitted my complaint against Vodafone at Consumer Court. Now I am waiting for my complaint reply. Hope I get help from Consumer Court soon.


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