That picture up there is of my best friend friend, Jo, or Mrs Cooke as I always call her, and her husband, taken on our recent holiday to France. Mrs Cooke is a highly respected teacher so I always call her that, she is even in my phone under as Mrs Cooke and when she rings me the screen displays “Mrs” as though that is her actual first name.
It is testiment to our friendship that I have handed my blog over to her today. Something I never do. This is my space and I don’t generally let other people air their voice on it. But then as it is my blog, they are my rules and they can be broken. Broken for instance when I hear something that just screams “this needs to be a blog post” and that is affecting my best friend.
Mrs Cooke has been left in limbo by what I can only describe as incompetence on the part of Vodafone. A company I fell out with about 12 years ago when something similar happened to me. My complaint letter back then didn’t even garner a response and I vowed I would never give them another penny. We did have to relent on that when J went to boarding school and Vodafone was the only phone signal he could get. But now he has left, on renewal we will be ditching that contract and transferring it to another company.
So here we go. This is what Mrs Cooke has to say to Vodafone
There are times in life when one feels that repetitive nature of events are specifically designed to send one mad, with the straightjacket of circumstance refusing to allow for any chance of escape. Sadly (for me) I have been caught in the jaws of a faceless and deeply indifferent industrial machine, known as Vodafone. Day by day, the jaws of customer care slowly chew at my will to fight for a basic right – to get what has been paid for!
This slow mastication by the technological monster Vodafone continues to gnaw at my will to the point where insanity is starting to look like the only sane option. I write this as a warning to all would-be victims who believe that gold lies at the end of a rainbow and promises made on websites are true.
Two weeks ago, following the sad demise of my Blackberry phone, I decided to venture into the unknown territory of the iPhone 5. My first mistake was to choose a service provider that offered the cheapest monthly rate, which was the aforementioned Vodafone. My second mistake was to believe that “porting a mobile number” could be done in one day, as promised on the website.
What has followed has left me feeling like a prisoner of Azkaban, with the dementors on the helpline laughing at my cries for help. As a working parent, I pay for my 12 year old daughter’s mobile phone, so that she can keep in touch between school and home (as well as the occasional shopping trip with friends). A particularly incompetent technician at Vodafone decided to port my old number onto my daughter’s phone, keep the new number on the new phone and, as if by magic, make my daughter’s number disappear! No doubt this individual then sat back, drank deeply from the nearby cup of tea, and felt that a good day’s work was done.
Since then I have had over 12 telephone calls to Vodafone, several text chats, a long helpline typed-chat and the occasional stab at trying to see if the mighty Twitter could help. All to no avail. Each contact with the malevolent entity Vodafone results in the same: a polite enquiry as to what the problem is, a long (and expensive pause) followed by a promise that the problem will be solved by 8pm, and if it isn’t, please phone back then. 8pm is the magic hour when all the technicians depart and cannot be contacted, nor can they help. Each and every promise to fix the problem or call back has been broken.
It appears that undoing the initial mistake is beyond the capabilities of all at Vodafone. My daughter’s number is still lost, my new phone doesn’t do what I pay it to do and still I hang in limbo. I can’t go to another company as that will simply compound the problem and Vodafone have proved themselves to be totally unwilling to tackle the issue…or too incompetent.
I believe that somewhere out there, a mythical being exists, who goes by the name of Jeroen Hoencamp, the CEO of Vodafone. Perhaps he holds the key to unlock me from this torment, but having believed in the Internet promises before, I feel there is little hope of a reprieve from this quarter. All I can offer a warning to other would-be customers and honest souls – do not believe any of the promises made by Vodafone, they are merely traps to ensnare the likes of me. Be warned, seek your mobile providers elsewhere or you too will be confirmed to a lower depth of Hell.
Now what Mrs Cooke isn’t going into the detail about is the long list of broken promises that she has had to listen to over the past two weeks. “It will be fixed by 4pm” / “It will be fixed in two days” / “It will be done tomorrow” have all come and gone. Who knew that porting your number from your old telephone company to Vodafone could be so complicated? They have a whole department who do nothing but this. They have an area on their website that suggests you can do it online and that it is straightforward. Let me assure you that it is far from that. And woe betide you if you call them on a Saturday of a bank holiday weekend. Forget it and call again on Tuesday.
And don’t even think about going into a Vodafone shop. We did that. I was confident that explaining the situation to somebody face to face would be the answer. Somebody trained. And helpful. And who would be only too happy to listen and do all they could at least try and help. How wrong could that assumption be. The person we spoke to leant on the desk, hands in jeans pocket and just said “that’s a porting issue, you need to call them, I can’t help”. All whilst “I Predict a Riot” blasted out of the store stereo system.
You aren’t wrong there, mate.
It seems to me that these companies are quick to advertise great deals that seemingly undercut other suppliers and entice us to sign up with them, but when things go wrong they just don’t give a stuff. And their staff in shops can’t even be bothered to try. Now in Mrs Cooke’s case she can’t get out of this contract without losing her number. Yes she can use the “cooling off period” afforded her in legislation but then she loses her number and has a whole other level of hell in trying to start again. Her current number is one that everybody knows. And in the meantime her 12 year old daughter who is learning to be independent by travelling on trains alone on shopping trips with friends is left without a phone entirely.
So what say you Vodafone? Are you finally going to sort this out or are you going to keep shrugging your corporate shoulders?