Vodafone 'stealing' customers - Telefónica

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The Independent Online

Telefónica Móviles, the mobile phone division of the Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica, is involved in a legal battle with its UK rival Vodafone, which it accuses of "stealing" potential clients.

The Spanish company, in the throes of a near £18bn takeover of the UK's O2, claims Vodafone has stopped potential customers from changing to Telefónica Móviles while keeping their original telephone numbers. It has taken the case to Spain's telecoms watchdog, CMT, claiming Vodafoneunfairly stopped customers switching companies. Vodafone, however, claims Telefónica Móviles has falsified the number of supposed customers who have tried to transfer to their company.

According to reports, Telefónica Móviles said Vodafone stopped 10,000 customers from changing company each month since the summer. Under Spanish law, a customer who wants to change to another company is entitled to keep their own telephone number and should be allowed to select any network provider.

According to CMT figures seen by The Independent, the number of customers who were not allowed to transfer from Vodafone to Telefónica Móviles had risen sharply since June. It said pre-paid mobile phone users who were denied from going from Vodafone to Telefónica Móviles almost doubled to almost45 per cent.

Vodafone said the rise in the number of customers who were stopped from moving to other companies was only where customers had not paid their bills. A spokesman said: "Spanish regulations do not allow customers to move [company] if they have not paid their bills."

No one at Telefónica Móviles or CMT was available for comment.

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