Vodafone customers wrongly told money taken from accounts
Telecoms giant Vodafone has apologised after thousands of customers got messages from it, telling them they had money debited from their bank accounts.
The text and email messages were sent by the company even though the money has not been taken, and is not owed by the customers, the Irish Independent has learned.
Vodafone is one of the largest mobile phone operators in the State, and has around 2.4 million customers.
It insisted that only around 1pc of its customers were affected, which implies around 24,000 phone users.
One customer reported on the Askaboutmoney.com website: "I just received within the last hour a text from Vodafone thanking me for a payment of €55.00 and half hour later €26.00, which I know nothing about.
"It appears that Vodafone have a hack or bug and know about, nothing was taken from my bank account, and the bank is aware of it."
The company insisted it was not hacked, and the problem was due to "customer communication error".
The blunder is the latest in a string of billing errors that companies have made with customer accounts at various businesses.
A spokeswoman for Vodafone said: "Due to an error with our notification process, Vodafone Ireland incorrectly contacted some customers via email and short messaging service (SMS) regarding payments.
"We want to reassure our customers that the notification did not reflect any payments made but was purely a customer communication error."
The company apologised to its customers for any confusion caused.
"We are currently reviewing our notifications processes and will take the necessary measures to ensure that this issue doesn't arise for our customers in the future."
In March, Vodafone rival Eircom was hit by a massive payments system blunder.
Eircom was forced to apologise for an embarrassing blunder that saw 30,000 customers facing huge one-off bills, following a mess-up where the company failed to collect direct debits for more than three months. The bills, many of which will be backdated to the start of the year, could come in at up to €500 each.
The company admitted the error and said that payment would be sought from customers in their next bill. It has refused to put in place an across-the-board credit on the bills of the customers affected.
And last month, thousands of pensioners and sick people were hit with delays to their payments.
They were caught up in banking chaos, which began with a May Day holiday on the continent, which shut down interbank transactions in this country.
Officials from the Department of Social Protection admitted that there were huge delays paying state pensions, illness benefits, jobseeker payments, and pensions for widows. The department blamed the banks for the mess.
The chaos also left many workers without pay for close to two days, despite banks taking mortgage and other payments.
It left thousands of people overdrawn, and prompted fears of penalty fees and charges being imposed by banks.