It doesn’t surprise me a bit to hear about Vodafone’s £4.6m fine for breaking Ofcom rules for handling customer complaints. My Open Letter to Vodafone last year set out my own painful experiences.
As if prescient of the kicking they have received from Ofcom this week, I have another story for you from only last week…
The S6 Edge that took me three months to obtain last year broke down recently – overheating, freezing, spontaneous re-booting, it was a very broken thing. Samsung in Oxford St quickly diagnosed a hardware fault. They offered to take it in as it was in warranty but advised me to review what Voda offered by way of a compensation or replacement.
So I called Voda and a cheerful chappy said I should drop by my local store and it would be replaced pronto. “It’s all on your file so they will help you – I’m 95% sure they will replace it” he quipped unconfidently. My local store is actually 6 miles away but I headed off, parked up and dropped in as advised. Adrian, the manager at Watford was less cheerful. “We can’t replace your phone and we have no courtesy handsets. We are only allocated ten and four of those have been stolen and the rest are out.”
Disappointed, I pressed for more: “We never just replace phones, Head Office makes promises we can’t fulfill. I agree with you, the customer service is dreadful!” That’s a Vodafone store manager slagging off his own company’s customer service, in case you missed the irony. I should’ve banked on being the 5% who DON’T get a replacement phone.
So I jump on the phone to Voda (music, music, wait, hold etc) and in a fleeting 12 minutes I get through to someone. There are no notes on my file about a replacement (so that was a lie). I ask for an escalation to the “Resolutions Team” (Jeez, they must be busy!). Music, music, holding, holding, I finally get through to the Resolutions Team. I’m offered an early upgrade as a resolution and put through to the upgrades team. (music, hold etc) who tell me I must pay £170 for early release from my contract. I’m so unhappy about this it’s back to resolutions (oh, yes, music, hold)…
While I hold, I ask another customer in the store if they feel the Customer Service at Voda is poor and they agree strongly. Adrian, the store manager, hears this dialogue and tries to throw me out of the shop for upsetting other customers. I calm him and stay for the duration of the call – 1 hour and 17 minutes.
In fairness to Voda, things improved from here. I’m now 70 minutes into this call and the resolutions team then make make an offer I couldn’t refuse. Waive the early contract renewal, £20 for my troubles and next day delivery of a new S7 upgrade.
Conclusion: My problem is resolved with no help at all from the retailer and after a massive battle with HQ directly over the phone while sitting in the store that should be solving my problem. Voda loses out on their reputation, gives me a score, they fail to gather their contract renewal penalty, they send me a new phone and I sell my old (in-warranty) S6 for a couple of hundred quid and they still look like losers.
Multiply this by 444 million customers and you get a feel for why they are fined a few quid by Ofcom. Frankly, it’s not enough.