Tax dodging mobile phone operator Vodafone has possibly the worst customer service in the UK.
Having tempted me (a customer since before I was married in 1993) to stay with the phone company after a 2 hour 20 minute web chat, Vodafone then failed to implement the deal it had offered.
Another 47-minute web chat led to Vodafone telephoning my office in a call that lasted more than two hours, yet still the mobile phone company could not honour the deal.
About to leave Vodafone
The special offer came on 11 June 1015 after I had demanded all the PAC codes for the five mobile phones, including my wife’s on a separate bill, in the family. I won’t bore you with the whole web chat but the snippet that is important was when supervisor Beth came on.
You can see the transcript below but the key thing is she made an offer and I double checked it asking “So: one 128Gb and one 64GB iPhone 6, each with 6GB of 4G (on 261 and 592). Three 1GB contracts on 366 (my wife’s) and 687 and 431. Total monthly bill 127.20 with an upfront charge of £80?”
Beth replied: “Yes :)”
I had earlier made clear I wanted my wife’s phone on my bill so all the phones were together – they were both paid from the same bank account. I had said: “I’d like to consolidate all the numbers into one bill – bringing in my wife’s 366 number”.
But I double-checked by typing: “Can you put the 366 number onto the one bill please? Just to make it easier (both are paid by direct debit from the same account anyway).”
Beth answered: “Of course :)”
I should have realised the smiley faces meant she was joking – in a Vodafone is a running joke kinda way.
So, on 23 June 2103 my wife received her Vodafone bill, still on a separate account, without the upgrade applied to her contract. This prompted me to look at my account and see that her phone was not added and the contract had been applied to a defunct number my son had before he went to Australia.
After 47 minutes on web chat trying to resolve this the rep asked if she could call me. And so began two hours that would be comedy had it not been so painful.
The full two-hour or so conversation is embedded from Soundcloud at the end of this but here are a few extracts.
I was eventually put through to the transfer team who, having spoken to me and then my wife, simply said they could not add a sixth line to my five line account. This was despite al six numbers already being taken by direct debit from the same bank account.
But the transfer team only does transfers. The silo mentality built into the Vodafone customer service system is staggering.
In this extract I query if I really have to go to one person to get the extra line cancelled, a second person to get the transfer done and third person to get the billing sorted. Have a listen to his honest response:
After another attempt, speaking to billing, I am told I am being put through to transfers again and the whole thing will have been explained to them so they will definitely be able to transfer the phone this time. When I get transferred, the guy has been given no information at all and I had to start again.
I ask her to double-check first that they will definitely be able to do the transfer this time. She categorically confirms that they will. They refused, of course, after again speaking to my wife. This is six minutes – and that is with the recorded music edited out.
In the end I proposed two possible solutions. The final customer service rep asked his supervisor and eventually implemented part of it – backdating the ending of one contract so that there were only fours left on my account, enabling the fifth to be transferred.
That was not enough to solve the issue. You cannot transfer and then upgrade it (even if the upgrade should have happened on 11 June). He then checked with his supervisor and said that if I called back the next day he would leave a note saying the upgrade should be implemented.
So, a 47-minute web chat followed by 2 hours on the phone and I have still not got what was promised in a 2 hour 20 minutes web chat on 11 June.
I am sending this to Vodafone UK chief executive, Jeroen Hoencamp. If I get any response I’ll update this post.
Full telephone call
Update 11.25 25 /06/15: I have had a reply from the CEO’s office saying they will investigate.
I suggested Vodafone needed more people trained and empowered like her to do all the different tasks and get rid of all the people in silos.
If they cannot do that for everyone why not at least offer a “gold” service for an annual fee or for valued, long-standing customers? This would allow us to call the small group of multi-skilled and empowered individuals on a different number to receive a higher level of customer service.
Even the CEO’s office service is flawed. They text to say they will call in 30 minutes and from which number. You cannot reply to that text.
If you miss the call, you cannot call back on that number. These are the basics and Vodafone gets them wrong. Text is left and the recorded message is below.
The audio of the full call with Holly can be made available needed. There is just so much that Vodafone still needs to put right.