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Vodafone 'simplified' charges cost more, irate customers say

Vodafone has switched to charging by the minute, rather than by the second, for pay as you go calls -- but this could easily cost you more.

Vodafone is altering its pay as you go pricing, in a move that will see many customers charged more for the calls they make.

The red-hued network currently charges your down-the-line chit-chat by the second, but will switch to a per-minute rate from 1 August. "If your call is 1 minute and 37 seconds long," Vodafone explains on its site, "it'll be charged as 2 minutes."

The move is designed -- the network says -- to make things "simpler", as it's easier to count how many minutes of balance you have left than it is to remember seconds as well.

Vodafone reportedly told The Guardian that it would not be rounding charges down to the nearest minute, even if, for instance, your call lasted 1 minute and 2 seconds. In that situation, you'd still have 2 minutes knocked off your available credit -- effectively increasing the price of that call by over 90 per cent.

Responding to a handful of disgruntled forum members, one Vodafone 'tech team' member says, "This change was brought in to make things simpler -- rather than trying to work out how much a few seconds cost, you can now see based on the exact charge by minute."

"Don't patronise us," one customer replies. "This is being introduced to make more money for VF pure and simple. It doesn't make anything simpler other than the fact that PAYG customers will essentially pay more for calls."

Orange, by comparison, currently has a 1-minute minimum call charge, then charges calls by the second after that.

Update: Vodafone has been in touch with the following comment:

"We are making a change to the pricing of our pay as you go service. From August 2013, all calls made to UK mobile numbers and landlines (starting 01,02,03) as well as calls to international numbers and voicemail will be rounded up to the nearest minute.

"Many of our competitors already offer price plans charged in this way. We believe that by offering propositions with a generous allowance of minutes, we continue to offer our customers great value. For example, our Talk Freebee package includes 1,000 minutes over 30 days when a customer tops up £10 and Vodafone Freedom Freebee includes 100 minutes and 300 texts when a customer tops up £10."

Are you unhappy with Vodafone's change, or is it worth splashing out extra cash to know your credit in minutes instead of seconds? Let me know in the comments, or on our up-to-the-minute Facebook wall.