Britain has fined Vodafone a record 4.6 million pounds ($5.60 million) for ''serious and sustained'' customer failures, including not updating accounts when mobile phone users topped up their credit to make calls. Ross Miklaszewicz reports
It's now a vital part of everyday life and mobile phone customers must be treated fairly. That's the view of Britain's telecoms regulator which has just fined Vodafone a record £4.6 million. The world's second largest mobile operator was punished for "serious and sustained" customer failures, including not updating accounts. Almost 10 and half thousand pay-as-you-go customers collectively lost £150,000 over a 17 month period. Vodafone said it regretted the problem and has now refunded the vast majority. It's even given £100,000 to charity to make up for the 30 customers it couldn't contact. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WILSON KING INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, HEAD OF RESEARCH, RICHARD HUNTER, SAYING: "From a financial perspective the amount of the fine which is less than 5 million pounds is something of a drop in the ocean when it comes to Vodafone and indeed the shares are virtually unchanged on the announcement. That being said, rather more difficult to quantify of course, especially when it has 20 million UK mobile customers is the reputational damage." Vodafone's not the only firm falling foul of regulators. Last month Sky - Britain's biggest pay-TV group - was warned it may have violated rules by making it too difficult for customers to cancel of switch providers.