Joanne Sands is unimpressed with Vodafone's ''termination''
process. Photo by Mark Price.
An Albert Town woman whose partner died in June says
Vodafone made a difficult time just that little bit more
difficult when she came to ''terminate'' her late partner's
Joanne Sands says it is all sorted now, but she had endured
two weeks of unnecessary stress.
''It's been really hurtful. It's kind of a kick in the guts
Ms Sands' partner, Des Wallace, died of cancer on June 7 aged
Ms Sands had nursed him, while also working full time as a
The couple had a contract with Vodafone for land line,
internet and two matching mobile phones that cost them $120 a
That included $18 a month for Mr Wallace's mobile phone.
Speaking to the Otago Daily Times, a sometimes tearful
Ms Sands said it took her a couple of months to ''pluck up
the courage'' to deal with the mobile phone contract.
''Because he used it, it was a hard thing to cancel ...
sentimental value, pretty much,'' Ms Sands said.
Vodafone would not accept her word over the phone that Mr
Wallace had died so she did what was requested, and sent a
copy of Mr Wallace's death certificate at the end of October.
Providing a death certificate had become ''kind of
natural'' Ms Sands said, when changing such things as bank
''Each time I do it, it has not been easy.''
She got a call from Vodafone to confirm it had received the
death certificate ''and no mention of fees or anything like
But then, two days after Christmas, her phone account showed
a $188.20 ''termination fee''.
Ms Sands said she spent two weeks waiting and phoning for an
explanation of why the termination fee was being applied, and
then made an official complaint on January 8.
Within two hours she had been refunded the $188.20 and five
months of the contract she had paid after Mr Wallace's death.
''The problem is, why couldn't they just do that to start off
with and as soon as I phoned, say, 'We're very sorry about
that', We'll take that off'.
''It's not a good thing to go through. How many times has
this happened to other people?''
Asked how Vodafone might have made it easier for her, Ms
Sands said the company could have taken her word that her
partner had died and it could have automatically wiped the
termination fee when it received the death certificate.
A Vodafone spokesman told the ODT it aimed to make its
termination process as ''painless as possible'' for the
family of the deceased.
''In some cases, presenting a death certificate is required
before the account is cancelled, but termination fees should
not be charged and existing account charges are often
''Unfortunately, we made a mistake processing Joanne's
request and the termination fee was applied. The situation
wasn't handled as well as it could have been and we sincerely
apologise to Joanne for this.''
The spokesman said while termination fees varied depending on
the length of contract remaining, in the case of
bereavements, ''Vodafone mobile, fixed and broadband
customers should not be charged termination fees''.
''This was a mistake which we put right with Joanne.''