Vodafone has announced damage insurance, four hour phone replacement, dedicated points of contact, free roaming and security solutions as part of its roster of business tariffs.
The operator, which referenced increased competition in the enterprise space as playing a part in declining service revenues last year, claims the new packages will reflect increasing reliance on mobile devices amidst British small business owners.
A poll by YouGov of 1,000 businesses with up to nine employees found that two thirds said mobiles were vital to their operations, yet 55% don’t have business phone insurance.
For both consumer and business users, Vodafone announced today that they’d be offering free roaming in 40 EU destinations. Business users will also receive free roaming to an additional 60 destinations world wide. Those business users who chose the more expensive Business Extra, Business Premier and Business Black plans will receive Vodafone Rapid –their four hour device replacement and insurance solution, and will also receive a dedicated contact.
Vodafone’s enterprise director Phil Mottram commented on the new tariffs stating, ‘Our new solutions are built on thousands of conversations with our customers and show our commitment to giving small businesses what they want, for a great price, wherever they may be and whatever stage they are at in their development. With worry free roaming charges, simpler but better tariffs, reliable security and a focus on keeping our businesses connected, our customers now have the ability to do more of what they want, when they want, on our bigger and better network.’
The news of Vodafone’s plans to help small businesses comes amidst attacks from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Vodafone’s payment periods with their small business suppliers. After naming industry players such as Vodafone, BT Group and Capita at a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses, Corbyn stated, ‘Some of the biggest names in business are holding cash piles that don’t actually belong to them. It’s a national scandal.’
The information referenced by the Labour leader is Experian’s payment statistics. This shows that the average payment beyond terms was 82 days for Capita, 84 days for Vodafone and 89 for BT.
However, Vodafone dispute the information’s validity with a spokesperson stating, 'We do not recognise these figures. We take the prompt payment of suppliers very seriously, particularly for our thousands of smaller suppliers, and have been signatories to the Prompt Payment Code since 2013. We currently pay our SME suppliers 45 days on average from the invoice date. We also provide supply chain financing, via a third party, if small businesses need earlier payment. We pay 90% of our invoices on time and, where this is not achieved, the most significant factor is receiving the invoices late from the supplier. That’s why we also work proactively with our suppliers to ensure they understand and adhere to our payment processes.'
Experian themselves also distanced themselves from the Labour leader's comments, stating that the information was from a 'commercially available report' and was not a result of collaboration. The company also explained that the averages given represent payments that are settled late and not all payments made by a company.
Both Capita and BT Group also disputed the statistics for the same reasons.