The litigation funder looking at launching a class-action suit against Vodafone over its 2010 and 2011 network issues, LCM, will stop looking for ex-Vodafone customers at the end of next week. However, as the deadline looms, the group has refused to disclose the number of people who have signed up.
Law firm Piper Alderman kicked off its plan to sue the telco back in 2010, at the peak of the "Vodafail" complaints about the network's poor performance. At that time, it signed up 23,000 interested customers who were looking at getting compensation for their network woes.
But it took two years for the campaign to resurface, and it returned in February 2013, when Piper Alderman received the backing of litigation funder LCM.
The firm said at the time that it was looking for tens of millions of dollars in compensation from the telco for customers who had suffered due to Vodafone's network issues, but it needed those 23,000 customers to re-sign up and confirm that they had a valid case against the company before the class-action suit could go ahead.
At the time, the firm indicated that it wanted to capture all of the 700,000 customers who had left Vodafone since 2011. Today, that figure stands at over 1 million.
But despite a continuing exodus of customers from Vodafone, there are signs that Piper Alderman will struggle to meet the targeted number of customers required for its suit by the end of registration on Friday, May 31.
LCM this month launched a series of advertisements both in print and on radio, calling for ex-Vodafone customers to sign up to the class action. Austereo, Australian Radio Network, and Nova have pulled the commercials, but conservative talkback station 2GB is believed to still be airing them.
LCM has claimed that it is being censored, a claim that Vodafone has denied.
Despite repeated requests to LCM to confirm the number of customers that have so far signed up, the firm has refused to disclose the number of disgruntled customers who have returned to be part of the suit in the two years since their original complaints about the telco.
According to a spokesperson for LCM, the firm will not disclose the number of customers involved in the class action until after the sign-up deadline has passed.
In a statement, Vodafone said it would not be distracted by Piper Alderman's efforts to get a class-action suit up and running.
"Vodafone has invested heavily in its network, and is a very different business today. We are focused on continued improvements in customer experience, and will not be distracted by what has been called a 'lawyers' picnic' by Australia's leading consumer advocate," a Vodafone spokesperson said.
"If there is a customer who is unhappy with their service, we want to hear from them direct."
The Facebook page dedicated to the class action has 141 likes.