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Vodafone’s dismal online billing service needs an upgrade

It’s problem Monday. A moment ago it was iTunes DRM annoying the hell out of me, and this morning it’s mobile operator front-end billing platforms. You know the kind I mean — the ones held together by sticky-tape and a lot of panicking by teams at Accenture, Detica or whoever it is that’s actually running the platforms.

Vodafone’s online billing service that allows you to login and check your bill is ok. OK. But it suffers from being thoroughly old. Forget Web 2.0 or even Web 1.0 — this is Web 0.0. Or 0.5. Clunky, quite slow and thoroughly uninformative at the best of times, these systems really are due a nice upgrade at some point.

The systems are causing frustration. Lots of frustration. Witness, here, an email from a rather influential purchaser of telecoms equipment in Europe. I’ve changed his name to Graham rather than give a clue to his identity. His company’s telecoms budget — which he controls — is in the millions. Add in their activities across Europe and it’s getting to Deutsche Post levels (See our story about Deutsche Post outsourcing their telecoms to Telefonica for 350m Euro).

Have a read of his email:

– – – – –

Ewan,

Guess what? Gets a nice email from Vodafone telling me that my bill is available online – just like normal. I go online and just like normal absolutely nothing works, no online statement (how do I know what I am going to be charged?), no info on price plans, no detailed call breakdowns, zilch, nothing. What century are we in? This is rubbish.

I chose to stop getting printed statements because it’s not very green and also there is a lot of confidential information in an itemised bill. Vodafone save money by not sending out bills but quid pro quo they also need to make their IT systems work reliably.

I am converting thousands of mobile handsets, Blackberrys and 3G cards from T-Mobile to Vodafone at work because T-Mobile can’t run a piss up in a brewery and the signal quality sucks. Am I making a mistake? Is there actually a mobile company that knows how to run a business and understands the basics of keeping IT systems available?

Graham

– – – – –

Not good, not good at all.

Alas what the consumer experiences is also what the executives experience. And this is one example of a really annoyed executive whom, I have no doubt, is going to be rather direct with his Vodafone account director when he or she arrives on site.

Still, at least the Voda system performs better than the T-Mobile Bollocks, as I affectionately like to call it. Here’s one indication as to why from a few months back.

12 COMMENTS

  1. As much as they wind me up – the O2 billing system is actually very very good. It's evolved nicely in the 5 years i've been with them. Not that it helps here mind, but, they aren't all crap in this area!

    K

  2. As much as they wind me up – the O2 billing system is actually very very good. It's evolved nicely in the 5 years i've been with them. Not that it helps here mind, but, they aren't all crap in this area!

    K

  3. *EVERY* month, without fail, the Vodafone Online Billing system breaks.
    It has never worked properly for as long as I can remember.

    EVERY month, without fail, I call up to tell them (its actually a running joke now) and every month, without fail, I'm told that its being looked into…

  4. *EVERY* month, without fail, the Vodafone Online Billing system breaks.
    It has never worked properly for as long as I can remember.

    EVERY month, without fail, I call up to tell them (its actually a running joke now) and every month, without fail, I'm told that its being looked into…

  5. May I recommend 3, never had a problem with their online system, I can look at my bills in detail, past and present.

  6. May I recommend 3, never had a problem with their online system, I can look at my bills in detail, past and present.

  7. Hi Ewan,

    I completely understand Graham being frustrated about his experience with us, and would love to explain.

    We've actually been in the process of updating to a shiny new billing platform for several weeks now, and the issue Graham's experienced is an unfortunate teething problem as a result of that. Several users (including myself) have had difficulty seeing unbilled data, or in actually viewing bills which we emailed them to say were available.

    My account's working fine now, so this could well be the situation for Graham too (not sure how long it is since his email to you?) If it's not still working though, drop me an email with some contact details for Graham and I'll see that the issue is addressed, along with any other outstanding cases. We appreciate how important it is for every one of our customers to have visibility of what's in their phone bill, and understand the convenience of quick and easy access that online billing provides, and for this reason we're working as hard as we can to resolve any such issues.

    In the meantime, if Graham or anyone else reading this is anxious to see their bills, we can of course issue paper copies in the short term to provide ultimate peace of mind. Customers can arrange this by calling 191 free from their mobiles. Alternatively you can dial 44555 free from your handset for a quick breakdown by text until it's all up and running again.

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