Fixing the fail at Vodafone

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 19-Oct-2010 21:14

How hard can it be for a telco to provide accurate usage information for customers? That's a question I've been asking myself for the past 3 1/2 years every time I try to check my usage balance on my You Choose plan.

One of my You Choose addons is Your Time 200. This offers my 200 minutes of calling to other Vodafone mobiles between 7pm and 7am weeknights, and all weekend. This addon differs from all other Your Time addons that include calls to any NZ number.


The description sounds clear enough. But that's where the problems start.

Lets say I want to check my remaining balance. A quick TXT with 777 with the word BAL tells me this

"Mthly N/W nat. vf-vf mins:126"

Hmm.. Where did the nat. come from? I was sure my minutes were only on net and didn't include national calls!

How about the 777 IVR? Maybe that's better?

You have.. "126 included included monthly nights and weekends national minutes".

Yip that's right, not only is the world included actually said twice but, but the national word has popped up again. What does that mean? Maybe the Vodafone website could help me. Lets log into the usage meter and check.


Landlines? That's a new word. Is that the same as national calls or different yet again?

What I can tell you from being a customer for many years is that the Talk 200 plan only includes calls to Vodafone mobiles. Calls to any other off net mobile or landline phone are charged at normal airtime rates.

After 3 1/2 years of observing this and numerous complaints to Vodafone about this about this I figured it's time to get this off my chest. I know how and why the the problem occurs - the balance system was poorly scoped and is unable to differentiate between the different Your Time addons. At the end of the day however I don't care that you have incompetent staff unable to properly scope and build systems. You are misrepresenting a product  and if you can't be bothered in sorting this maybe you should actually start offering including calls to landlines in this plan so you're not confusing your customers?

How hard can it be? Honestly? I bet it's easier than fixing the continual problems with stalling PDP contexts on your 3G network (but that's a whole new post for a rainy day).

Other related posts:
Skinny takes FUD to new heights with Vodafone GSM network shutdown billboards.
Are Air New Zealand about to dump their Premium Economy Spaceseat?
Will the iPhone 6 work in New Zealand?

Comment by alasta, on 19-Oct-2010 21:28

I can remember around two or three years ago Vodafone took their usage reporting facilities offline for a period of days, or stretching my memory perhaps it was even weeks, on the promise that they were rolling out new billing infrastructure. The high hopes that I had for that project were never actually realised.

Comment by Hag, on 20-Oct-2010 08:39

Oh Piss off! Voda are da bomb

Comment by johnr, on 20-Oct-2010 12:05

The IVR side is now resolved

Comment by johnr, on 20-Oct-2010 12:14

@Alasta the issue Steve has pointed out here is not related to the upgrade of the billing infrastructure.

Comment by freitasm, on 20-Oct-2010 16:09

Billing problems? What billing problems?

Comment by Renick07, on 25-Oct-2010 19:39

Have a look at 2degrees for how to display usage effectively... C'mon Vodafone, it's obviously not that hard if the new kid on the block can get it right first time!

Comment by Linuxluver, on 26-Oct-2010 08:44

I suspect the "national" minutes thing is to remind us - or educate us - that we are lucky in NZ to have one per-minute calling rate to any other VF (or, different rate, non-VF) mobile in the whole country.

In  US and Canada and many other places, your best rate is your "local" calling area...which can be quite small. If you have a cell phone in a place like London, Ontario, for can call make 'local' calls in London itself (pop 500,000-ish), but once you get more than about 10km outside of the city, you're then making toll calls. Remember they also pay to *receive* calls (and txts)....and pay a toll rate for receiving calls outside their "local" area.

I'm broadly satisfied with Vodafone's reporting, though I definitely would appreciate being able found out how much data I have used once I'm over the quota. Last time I checked, they stop counting...and you only find out how much data you have used when you get your monthly statement.

Comment by jonb, on 28-Oct-2010 12:08

I recall from previous threads vodafone billing and usage is still on a mainframe type of setup, so they presumably get shafted by IBM anytime they want to make a change to it?

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sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at