Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Vodafone imposes new late payment fee

File photo / Brett Phibbs.
File photo / Brett Phibbs.

Vodafone mobile customers will be stung with a new penalty fee if they are late paying their bill.

The telco has told customers that they will now be charged a $10 penalty fee if they are more than a week late paying their bill.

The move has angered one long-term customer who says it will unfairly penalise those who may forget to pay their bill, but always eventually do so.

Vodafone customers are currently sent their bill 18 days before payment is due.

If the bill has not been settled seven days after it is due, and is more than $50, then a late penalty of $10 will be charged.

The penalty fees will apply for August bills onwards.

Vodafone spokeswoman Michelle Baguley said the new charges would affect only a minority of customers.

"It's true that the majority of our customers do pay their bills on time.

But the cost of recovering payments from those who don't is significant.

"And the late-payment is going to help recoup some of those costs, and has been a standard industry practice for some of our competitors for a little while.''

Telecom charges a late payment fee of either $14 or 1.66 per cent of the outstanding bill - whichever is greater.

But a 2Degrees spokeswoman said the network did not charge late payment fees and had no plans to do so.

Ms Baguley said Vodafone was reminding its customers that the easiest way to avoid the penalty fee was to set-up a direct debit.

"What we've decided to do...is target specific people [chronic late-payers]. What it means is it doesn't have any impact on everybody else.''

But Vodafone customer Esther MacIntyre, a producer at 95bFM, said the fee would net customers such as herself who might occasionally forget to pay a bill.

She said the cost of sending such customers a reminder text or automated phone call was not great.

"I'm not going to stop using your service, I need a phone, and I have the money. Sometimes I forget to pay a bill, like everyone.

"You're not supposed to treat your customers like this, because people will leave. It just seems really basic to me.''

The 23-year-old has been with Vodafone since she bought her first phone in high school and said she found the company's approach rude.

"It's kind of passive aggressive - 'Hello Esther, most people try to pay their bill when it's due. However, this isn't always the case.'''

See tomorrow's NZ Herald for more on this story

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf02 at 27 Dec 2014 05:50:43 Processing Time: 274ms