Operators Services

Vodafone UK overcharging on their shortcodes?

I had an anonymous tip called in this afternoon about Vodafone. The caller, who works in the UK mobile industry, close to major aggregators, claims that for the last 6 weeks, Vodafone UK have been charging users not just for the MO (the originating message) to a shortcode, but also for the MT (the return message) AND the premium billing message.

So, for example, if you sent a text to a £1.50 shortcode, that would cost you 12p. Then you’d also be billed £1.50 by Vodafone. All is good. However my contact alleges that Vodafone’s billing system has also been whacking the customer for an extra 12p. The total cost to the customer, in this example, being £1.62. Not good. My contact is not sure if it’s isolated to PAYG or a whole platform issue. If the contact’s tip is accurate, that could be quite a lot of additional millions of pounds charged by Vodafone.

Are you a Vodafone customer? Used any shortcode services recently? Can you check your bill for me and put this one to rest? Likewise if you’re an aggregator — what’s the story?

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

17 replies on “Vodafone UK overcharging on their shortcodes?”

“So, for example, if you sent a text to a £1.50 shortcode, that would cost you 12p. Then you’d also be billed £1.50 by Vodafone”
“The total cost to the customer, in this example, being £1.62. ”

Thats not the right amount because….?

now if we as an aggregator did this we’d be up in front of the magistrate and shutdown by the likes of Vodafone before you could say “bloody networks are useless”. But they themselves do it and…well lets just see how long it takes them to tidy this little mess up! Long enough for the rumoured extra £360,000 revenue PER WEEK sat in their bank accounts to be worth a nice little bit of Christmas interest I reckon!!!

and if they even think about asking the aggregators to help them sort it out then they can go take a giant leap into the lake! This mess is yours Mr Vodafone…

steve procter

One of my colleagues from placed a phone call to the nice people at the Vodafone press office, who said they ‘didn’t know anything about this, but they’d do some digging’.

Seen a post over at 160characters about this too, apparently Vodafone declined to comment.

If it’s true, then I wonder who’d get the blame? ICSTIS generally as a rule fines the aggregators, and not the network, for not making the price of a service clear enough (or publishing it at all). Would this mean the likes of Netsize, Mblox, Win, etc, will have to pick up the tab? How would the money get back to the end user?

Let’s hope it’s not too serious – look at how the press sunk their teeth into the Crazy Frog and Big Brother voting debacles and further tarnished the reputation of an already fragile industry..

I agree with Steve. If this problem does exist, Vodafone should turn off all premium rate shortcodes until its fixed.

err excuse me I most certainly didnt say that they should turn off all shortcodes until fixed. that would be like fixing a hole in the road by shoving a stick of semtex into it.

they should just get one of their staff who look after their 21st century ultra-advanced billing system to simply run a script such as…

for all users who have been over charged by 12p doloop;
deduct 12p from the users bill;

the problem would be fixed before we all wake up for breakfast; and the desperado journalists trying to generate “story of the week” would have nothing left to talk about.

but do we think it will be resolved that easily…?? place your bets now…

steve procter

It seems this is true, and let’s just hope it’s a containable issue that can be resolved within Vodafone easily and quickly.

I find it increasingly frustrating that so many people jump on the ‘bashing-bandwagon’ before the facts are fully known. In this instance where fall out from a carrier issue could have a negative knock-on effect on every single provider in the Mobile Value Chain, i’m amazed that so many ‘so-called’ ‘mobilista’s’ are so happy to stick their neck on the line and publically shame a carrier. Carriers read the press/blogosphere and you can bet your bottom dollar they remember who commented.

Personally I’m not on a ‘bashing bandwagon’ – I would just like to know the facts. There’s more going on behind the scenes than most people are going to admit to on this blog, so best thing to do is sit back and wait for a proper response.

Of course if you’re curious, grab a Vodafone PAYG handset and try some shortcodes.

Problems do happen, and no company is perfect. Problem is, as I pointed out earlier, in this case something like this (if proven) has potential to damage an already fragile industry.

I’m on the operator bashing waggon and to make sure all the blog engines, google, etc pick it up … “steve procter thinks mobile operators could do better”.


steve procter

Mobile phone networks have LBS Steve, they’re watching you.. any minute that van with the tinted windows will pull up and the network police will kidnap you :p

oh they came and took me away a long time ago. I’m locked inside their walled garden with just the ghost of David Beckham for company. They keep promising to let me out for an extended visit of the big wide world, but the day never seems to come. I’m just gonna have to knock their wall down and escape instead.

…but apparently there is a tunnel that I could get out through, although Big Arun (doing life on the secure wing) says I’ll need to pay him a whopping £45 per month for the next 18 months of my life to use that – but he will allow me to come and go whenever I need.

steve procter

Following on from my colleague at phoning Voda’s press office yesterday, they’ve just come back to him with this (rather short) statement.

“Vodafone can confirm a charging issue effecting a number of our pay as you talk customers using premium rate SMS services. The issue continues to be investigated.”

So there you go.

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