It was announced last week that Vodafone UK is changing the prices of their out-of-bundle rates. This is of particular interest because, according to Vodafone UK, 08 numbers account for a large amount of their customers’ out-of-bundle calls and so the changes mean that calling 08 numbers from a Vodafone mobile will be reduced. When the changes come into effect on the 11th October, pay monthly and pay-as-you-go customers will both pay 7p per minute to call UK 0800 numbers from their Vodafone UK mobile, and 12p per minute to call both UK 0845 numbers and 0870 numbers from their Vodafone UK mobile. The minimum charge on all of these numbers will be a one minute charge.According to Vodafone UK this will represent a savings of between 42% and 80% for its customers, as prices can be up to 35p currently. However, this price decrease is only temporary, and Vodafone are in fact raising this price to 14p per minute from 3rd January 2012.
It was also announced that Vodafone UK customers who joined the company before February 2011 will see the cost of their calls rounded up to the nearest 50p from 11th October. Vodafone announced that it will be “simplifying” their bills by rounding it up to make the bills easier for their customers. So, if a customers’ monthly bill is normally £28.51, it will be rounded up to £29 to make it simpler for customers. Vodafone promised that nobody’s bill will increase by more than 49p per month, but this could result in millions of pounds per month extra for Vodafone when multiplied by its millions of customers.
Not surprisingly there has been a customer backlash, particularly on internet blogs and forums, with customers feeling this was just a way to get more money out of them and make them pay higher bills. However, customers were finding that they had little choice but to accept the changes, as the small print in Vodafone UK’s contract states that customers can only cancel their contract with them if they can prove that their monthly bill will increase by more than 10%, and that they must write to do this and cancel before the new price rise comes into effect.
A Vodafone UK spokesman said: “Very few customers will see their overall bill increase by anything like 10% because the majority of out-of-bundle calls are made to 08 numbers (because they are never in-bundle), and the price of those calls is reducing by as much as 80%. A wide range of organisations, from utility companies and banks to supermarkets and even local councils, make use of 0800, 0845 and 0870 for their customer service helplines”.
Commenting on the news, Jemma Fox, Marketing Director of The 0800 Number Company, said: “The news about Vodafone UK cutting the costs of calling 0800 numbers from their mobiles would be welcomed if it wasn’t for that fact that they are then going to increase them in January! Announcing that you are rounding your monthly bills up to the nearest 50p to make it easier for the customer, even if the figure after the pounds is 51p, is also backfiring, as customers understand the bills as they are, if they were rounding down as well as up then it would be more understandable, but this is just blatant price increases, so they should have just come out and said it.”