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Complaint pays off in the end


While I am on the subject of complaining, I have just had victory in my four-month-old dispute with Vodafone over a roaming charge applied to my Greek 3G data account. To remind readers, I have two Vodafone contracts, one in the UK and one in Greece. Both have similar modems and I take great care not to use either outside the country of origin. I know how disgusting data roaming rates can be. Over Christmas I caught myself out. Sure, it was my mistake–I plugged in the Greek modem instead of the English one while staying in an hotel in Brighton. I soon realised my mistake and shut down, but not before using some 27 MB of data. 

I immediately wrote to Vodafone Greece to say that I hoped my use was within the automatic daily roaming bundle of 50MB for €14.50. They came back to say it wasn't, citing the fact that my account predated the advent of this discount bundle and I should have requested that it be applied to my account (even though it is a no-cost option). They had the cheek to say I should check the small number on the back of the SIM card–44 for UK, 30 for Greece. This is all very well, but you don't want to keep taking the SIM out of the modem and that's why I have two identical modems (they are now clearly marked UK and Greece, now the horse has bolted).

Obviously I wasn't best pleased and wrote at length to tell them what I thought of their system. Shortly afterwards I was walking through London when I got a call from Vodafone Greece to assure me that there would be no charge for the use. Relief.

Of course this wasn't the end of it. I subsequently found €213 added to my January bill and no amount of cajoling or complaining got the charge removed. As I know from past experience, consumer laws in Greece are so rudimentary that suppliers do not respond to pressure. So I put pressure on Vodafone Group Plc in Reading, specifically to the Group Finance Director. 

Within three working days I have had a full apology by phone from Athens. The charge will be removed. It just shows that you have to be persistent. And it also draws into focus the criminally high roaming charges applied by telcos. We've all heard the (probably apocryphal) story of the holiday maker in Benidorm who incurred a $50,000 charge for watching movies on her phone. Vodafone Greece still charge €10 per MB or €1,000 per GB. That's just one episode of Spooks if you're inclined to a bit of entertainment when on holiday. At last, though, the European Union has its beady eye on the service providers and some improvements are forecast. 


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