Vodafone: No contact from law firm on class action

Vodafone states no details have been provided on the class action brought on by Piper Alderman in the past two years

Vodafone Australia hasn’t had any contact from Australian law firm, Piper Alderman, which is planning to proceed with a class action lawsuit against the telco.

The action relates to Vodafone customers experiencing calls dropping out, reception issues, weak data and internet performance and poor customer service in 2010 and 2011.

Since Piper Alderman began collecting disgruntled Vodafone customers in December 2010, it has received more than 23,000 registrations of interest to participate in the action from contract holders.

A spokesperson from the telco said it was aware of the law firm’s plans to proceed with the class action, but the firm hasn’t directly contacted the telco about it since it first threatened action in 2010.

“Nor has it sought to discuss the claims of any customers it represents in the class action with Vodafone,” the Vodafone spokesperson stated. “Vodafone has not been provided with any details of the class action at this stage and is therefore not able to comment on the claims which might be made.

“Vodafone would like to hear from any customer who has encountered difficulties with the network and we encourage customers, past and current, to contact us directly so that we can discuss ways to resolve any concerns they have.”

The partner leading the action for Piper Alderman, Sasha Ivanstoff, said it believed consumers overpaid for services not provided, or customers were misled into signing contracts with Vodafone where no mobile coverage was in their area.

Piper Alderman and LCM Litigation Fund will group thousands of small claims together into one class action.

“Vodafone publicly admitted to these faults and accepted that they responded inadequately to the complaints and concerns of their customers,” LCM managing director, Patrick Coope, said. “While their customers appreciate the acknowledgement, it comes far too late for many people who have suffered as a direct result of Vodafone’s failure to provide them with the services they signed up for.”

Telecommunications consumer group ACCAN says customers who want swift action for the Vodafone network's service outages should contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

"There is absolutely no denying that Vodafone had major problems with its network in 2010 which impacted very badly on its customers. These problems were made worse by denial from management and front line staff that the network was melting down," ACCAN spokesperson, Elise Davidson, said.

"Vodafone has already compensated some customers by providing discounts on monthly plans or waiving them altogether until the network was improved. More than a million customers voted with their feet and left Vodafone altogether. We suggest those unsatisfied with Vodafone's response to their complaint contact the TIO which is a free, independent service set up specifically to resolve complaints between providers and their customers."

"This class action is going to take a long time to play out and there are no guarantees for consumers that they will receive compensation if it goes to court - our fears are that this will turn into a lawyer's picnic. It would be a better outcome for consumers if VHA was able to invest the money it will spend defending this class action into further improving its network, which would result in a better service for its customers."

The news comes on the back of Vodafone's 50 per cent equity owner, Hutchison Telecom, posting its share of VHA experiencing a net loss of $408.8 million in the year ending December 31. For 2011, it reported a net loss of $175.4 million.

VHA's customer base declined a further 443,000 to 6.6 million users.

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