Customer Service – Vodafail stylee!


Back in January I got myself in such a state, that I actually couldn’t write my previous customer service based blog for a while, as my head might have exploded and dropped off. I was feeling more and more like Michael Douglas in Falling Down and people with whom I was dealing should have been quaking in their boots.

Since, I have made a concerted effort to observe Customer Services more and more. By and large it would appear that the smaller the company, the better the service.

So let’s call this Customer Service nightmare No.2…and hoping @queenofshops reads it!

At the beginning of the month I had my mobile stolen. No biggy, people get their phones stolen every minute of every day. Like most people, too, I insured mine, with the provider, so that, in the event, I would be inconvenienced as little as possible. So the sequence of events was…phone stolen in Sainsbury’s.

I realised within five minutes that it had gone, spoke to a member of staff who brilliantly suggested I get customer services to call it.

Customer Services unmanned for a full 5 minutes. ……..hmmmmmmm.

Customer Services appear and call phone and it rings but none of us can hear it. CS clerk very helpful but we achieve nothing.

I return home, call Vodafone and stop phone, sim card….IMEIOendeeo number etc. Guy on Vodafone insurance a great bloke, just says I’ll need a crime ref number to ensure the replacement arrives asap.

Call police to get crime ref number.

Police agree to come and see me following day to take statement and issue crime reference number.

Return to Sainsbury’s having realised I have not left my landline number with them in case phone is recovered.

Security guard at Sainsbury’s the most helpful, patient and solid bloke you’ll meet. He went through all the CCTV footage with me, we tried to get the event from all angles and must have spent an hour with him – an absolute credit to Sainsbury’s Deepdale but sadly to no avail. Crim gets away unnoticed!

Following day, speak to Police, great officer, get crime ref number, call Vodafone insurance and am reassured a phone will be sent to me within 2 days.

Up to now everything was straight forward and everyone very helpful. Then it all went awry. The model I had was out of stock. Then I had to choose a new model. There were a few calls to and fro culminating in my being told via automated message that my new phone would arrive on the Monday – 6 days after the theft.

When the package arrived it did NOT, as delivery note described, contain a Blackberry phone and a sim card but a sim card and Nokia travel charger.

I called Vodafone and then it was like the Spanish inquisition for a further 2 weeks. My beef is that of the 5 or 6 calls I had to place to chase things up, every time I had to explain the situation chapter and verse. Every time I was then put on hold for a minimum of 9 minutes and calculate that, over all, in the space of the two weeks, I must have spent 2 and a half hours on hold while the customer services clerk read through my notes.

Each time they had to then speak to a senior manager and every time I was made to feel like I was responsible for the package NOT containing a Blackberry. I felt very much like I was being made to feel that I was pulling a swifty, although this was never actually said, but it was, regardless, bloody obvious that this was what they thought.

I appreciate their problem. From their notes they had dispatched a phone to the couriers. They could see it having been signed out and signed in at the couriers but between them and me the phone had gone astray. My packaging was completely in tact. No evidence of tamper.

But from a customer services perspective…..why am I on hold all that time, at my expense, when I pay insurance? It’s up to them to investigate what’s going wrong at their end and in their time, I just want a phone. But, of course, each time you call, your case notes grow and it takes longer and longer for them to work their way through the melee that is the Nokia Travel charger vs Blackberry saga.

My penultimate call was the result of the final wind up. Having established that I had not received my phone, that I could keep the Nokia travel charger (though why, when I don’t have a Nokia is beyond me) and that another Blackberry would be sent, I was asked if I would be available to receive the new, new phone on the following Monday. “Well not if I have to stay in between 8am and 6pm again because I have two meetings at opposite ends of the day, so if you can, say, deliver between 10 and 4, then yes.”

“Hmmm shall we deliver Tuesday instead then because we can’t make that promise?”

“OK fine. What’s another day by this stage, I guess?”

And with that I was told again that I would get a automated message to confirm the delivery.

Landline rings and automated message tells me I will have to stay in from 8am to 6pm on the MONDAY to receive the delivery.

At this point I see red and call Vodafone again.

“Can I speak to a senior manager please?”

“Can I ask what this is about?”

“Yes it’s about the continuing fuck up that is your lack of customer service.”

“There’s no need for that language, Madam.”

“Now that’s where you’re wrong, because I think after nearly three weeks on hold and still having no phone there is every need for that language and hence why I want to speak to someone senior because I would like them to be on the receiving end of this language and not you.”

At this point the guy asked me what the problem was and put me on hold while he read my case notes.

At this point I mentally reached down the phone and grabbed him by the throat until he turned purple but in reality when he asked if I’d mind being on hold, I said no for fear of a relentless F-ing tirade.

I was put through to a senior manager, an Irish man. I find it quite common these days that customer services senior types are Irish, that maybe these huge firms have figured that a bit of warm, singy songy blarney from someone you imagine to be devastatingly handsome and a bit of a rogue will lead to less talk of their having fucked up and more women swooning and probably agreeing to an even longer contract, fewer free calls and a really shit deal……I digress. (He was probably more like that character out of Colin Bateman’s Dr Yes novel who owned the bookshop, No Alibis.)

He said he believed I was calling to change the delivery date for my phone. No, I said. I’m calling because I want to know why every customer services call has to be such a wind up. Why I’m put on hold for ages, why you then ask me when I’d like the phone delivering and ignore my answer!!!

I told him to listen to all my previous calls, because their automated message says that all conversations are recorded. He said the precise wording was that calls MAY be recorded. Yeah, because being a gobshite pedant at this point in the conversation is really helpful!! Moreover, if anyone’s going to be a gobshite pedant then it’s me!

Then he said quite calmly that if I was out when they called to deliver, their couriers would always call again so my concern was irrelevant or do I mean unwarranted or unfounded, regardless, unnecessary. I hung up. He might have finished his sentence, I didn’t wait to find out.

Now, I have the phone finally. It was described as white when I ordered it. Actually it’s pearlescent white and makes me feel like a cheap tramp! I daren’t get it out in the park to track my run Endomondo stylee because I think the 12 year olds might beat me up for it so they can pretend to be a wag.

A few days later I got an alert to the new phone telling me my monthly bill was available to view online.  I average a monthly bill of £55. This was £380-odd.

I called Vodafone.

I asked why my bill was so huge, that it was usually around £50-60 and that this last month I’d not even had a phone for 2 of the 4 weeks.

They didn’t know. They could see the amount but there was no explanation as to what constituted the amount. They would instruct another department to look into it and I was to call back in 5 days…yes, I had to call them! I had to call them, I’ll say it again, I had to call them and in five days.

(In my last job my boss had a standard mandate – we call the clients, the suppliers call us. I think it’s a fine attitude. )

The following day I received a letter from Vodafone – the bill included the cost of a new phone.

I called Vodafone back and highlighted the insurance cover. They realised the mistake and took the amount off my balance.

I’m not impressed.

I’m even less impressed that Vodafone seemingly don’t have an automatic search on twitter for every time their name is mentioned……I’m guessing they’d have to employ the whole of Co. Mayo to deal with such an eventuality!

By the way guys, the word Vodafail is used more often!

NB As a point of fairness, I should say that during one conversation a clerk did say he would credit my bank account with £25 so I could go and buy a cheap phone and at least be able to receive calls and texts. I’ve never checked because if he didn’t then my husband would divorce me, unable to stand another night of “AND ANOTHER THING………..I am officially being driven insane by the infernal practice that is NOT Customer Service.


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