The head of Vodafone admits the way in which it dealt with a woman whose dead husband kept being sent monthly bills bordered on incompetent.
A week after Fair Go aired the story of Deborah Scheib, whose late husband Brendon kept being sent bills despite dying three years ago, the company’s chief executive Jason Paris agreed to appear on the show to discuss the issue.
When Brendon died, Deborah had his Vodafone account put in her name. But suddenly this year bills started to arrive for them both.
Deborah had called and emailed Vodafone on a number of occasions, without success - the company even sending letters indicating Brendon had personally spoken with them.
“Unless anybody's lost someone in a traumatic situation, they don’t know what that’s like, it’s very insensitive of them,” she told Fair Go.
Last week, in a statement, Vodafone officials accepted the company had messed up, apologised, blamed clerical and systems errors and said they had a bereavement team on the job.
Chief executive Mr Paris watched last week’s show with embarrassment.
He was even hit up by his wife and kids about the saga.
‘We’ve stuffed it up from start to finish, we’ve made so many mistakes,” he said.
“Poor Deborah has borne the brunt of them. I am sure there are other customers we need to put right as well. We will do whatever it takes.”
Mr Paris was right about there being other customers affected, with a string of viewers getting in touch to share their tales of woe.
One family said that despite asking the company not to, Vodafone had their dead father’s voice message wiped.
“Thanks a lot Vodafone, you heartless dicks.”
Returning to Deborah’s problem, he said the company had a bunch of people working on her case, but still made a number of mistakes.
“Yeah, I think it's a training issue, I think it's a process issue, a communication issue. I think it's a technology issue.”
Fair Go’s Hannah Wallis asked if Vodafone was incompetent?
“A pretty fair observation considering the process she’s gone through.”
Mr Paris vowed to do better from now on.
Vodafone have set up a direct email for those working to get bereavement/name-change issues sorted: firstname.lastname@example.org
“No response from Vodafone even after giving them my father's death certificate.”
“I'm seriously disgusted. My poor mum is so upset."
"This has happened to me too. I felt really sorry for Deborah and can understand the pain it has caused her."
"For five years we've been asking Vodafone to change the phone account from my late father's name."
"I've been battling Vodafone for the past four months. How do they expect someone who has died to top up their prepaid cellphone?"
"We also asked Vodafone not to wipe the voicemail so we could hear our father's voice. They wiped the voicemail. Thanks a lot Vodafone, you heartless dicks."
"I had to get the lawyer on to them to close my mum's account."
"Vodafone need to seriously look into staff training, how to sort problems and how to apologise to their customers."
"Grieving families don't need this stress.”