Why consumers were refused Vodafone smartphone contracts on Black Friday

Frustrated customers take to review sites and social media to vent their frustrations

(Image credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Online phone retailers have come under fire from customers who were “wrongly” refused phone contracts on Black Friday.

An investigation by the BBC has found that an issue with Vodafone’s credit check system resulted in roughly 5% of customers – a number that could run into thousands – being “incorrectly turned down” for payment plans.

While several third-party retailers have received complaints from customers over declined contracts, Carphone Warehouse-owned mobiles.co.uk “has attracted the brunt of the fallout”, the broadcaster adds.

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According to Trusted Reviews, the Black Friday deals included Apple’s iPhone 8 with 100GB of monthly data on a Vodafone contract for £37 a month, which is an overall saving of £144 over a 24-month period.

But some buyers who opted for similar deals were sent emails informing them that they had failed credit checks.

Customers took to consumer reviews site Trustpilot to vent their frustrations, with many accusing both mobiles.co.uk and Carphone Warehouse of offering “scam” deals.

Others tweeted that those who had their contract applications rejected had been put “under unnecessary stress regards falsely advising people of poor credit rating”.

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Speaking to the BBC, a Vodafone spokesperson said “the high volume of interest” in its Black Friday deals meant that “the system dealing with credit applications from indirect partners experienced some issues.

“This meant that a small number of applications were declined incorrectly,” the spokesperson added. “The system is now back up and running properly and we are rechecking applications from anyone who has contacted us to query our decision on their application.”

However, Ben Wood, chief of research at market analysts CCS Insight, told the broadcaster that the Dixons Carphone group, which owns both Carphone Warehouse and mobiles.co.uk, failed to assist customers who had their contract applications declined.

“If you’re going to offer a promotion that almost looks too good to be true, the likelihood is that you are going to get deluged with people and you have to be able to cope with that as an organisation,” he said. “If something then goes wrong you have to address that.”

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