Vodafone to pay €400,000 roaming fine
THOUSANDS of Vodafone customers have been told to contact the company directly for compensation after unwittingly racking up roaming charges of up to €3m between them.
Yesterday the mobile phone giant received a €400,000 court-ordered fine after failing to prevent its customers from clocking up massive data roaming charges.
The Irish Independent has learnt that Vodafone has just three days to pay the penalty. Customers will have to seek compensation on an individual basis.
Telecoms watchdog Comreg originally proposed a €500,000 fine, however following lengthy deliberations both sides agreed on the €400,000 penalty.
Under new EU rules introduced in 2010, all mobile operators have to apply a roaming cap of €50 (excluding VAT) to all customers when they're roaming outside their home country.
This gives consumers the ability to carefully monitor their spending while away.
However, the regulator claimed Vodafone illegally deprived customers of the option to have the spending cap applied to their data roaming by March 1, 2010.
It was further alleged that the company illegally placed customers on a spending cap of €300.
Vodafone Ireland was found by Comreg not to have complied with the relevant legislation. In December Comreg initiated legal action against the telephone firm and the case has just been settled by the two sides. The High Court was told yesterday of the settlement.
Vodafone consented to pay Comreg a €400,000 court-ordered financial penalty. It also has to pay Comreg's legal costs.
Vodafone has also agreed to apply the spending cap on data roaming by February 22 and must settle any outstanding issues with affected customers.
Customers with concerns regarding their phone bill are asked to contact Vodafone directly.
"Vodafone has settled with the regulator in the interest of achieving clarity for our customers. However, the company is disappointed with the regulator's approach on this issue," said Paul Ryan from Vodafone Ireland yesterday.