Vodafone UK CEO
Friday 6th September 2013
I was so happy to see on your website that you’re happy for any issues with Vodafone to be sent directly to you, and that you’ll take the time to read the comments that are sent. I’m hoping you can explain the Vodafone policy of actively discouraging less mobile and disabled customers from using your PAYG service by making it necessary to visit the store for services which other networks provide over the phone.
I’d like to tell you a little story if I may. Until last year, I was a customer with Three, and when I was unfortunate enough to have my phone stolen, within 24 hours they had posted me a new SIM with my existing phone number on it ready to pop in my replacement phone. I foolishly assumed that this service would be available through all the UK networks - after all, you’re able to port in numbers from other networks to new SIM cards, which to a layman would seem to be much harder than applying a Vodafone number to a Vodafone SIM.
Unfortunately Guy, as I’ve discovered over the last couple of weeks, this seems not to be the case. About 10 days ago I decided to treat myself to a new phone. I bought a gorgeous shiny new Galaxy S4 Mini. It’s lovely! I can see it from where I sit typing this letter. As you can imagine, I was very excited to start using my new phone, but unfortunately, being such a lovely shiny new gadget, it needs a new fangled micro-sim. This meant that instead of just popping my old SIM in the new phone, I needed to contact your customer services to arrange the new SIM. Rather naively, I now realise, I expected this to be a matter of requesting one, and waiting for the postman to drop it through my letterbox the next day. Alas, my hopes were dashed! There was no way to get a micro-sim with my old phone number on it unless I visited one of your shops. I did explain that I was disabled, and would find it difficult to visit a shop, but your advisor was adamant. Unless I wanted to change my phone number. I would have to go into a shop.
Now I’m very fond of my mobile number. We’ve been together for many years, and the number is well known to all my friends and family - not to mention my financial service providers and utility companies, so I reluctantly agreed to visit a shop. It was quite a kerfuffle to be honest Guy - but I’m blessed with a very helpful partner who was willing to assist on this mission, so on Thursday the 29th August, we set off on our quest to acquire a micro-sim for my new phone. At this point, I really have to compliment you. We visited the Wakefield store, and were seen immediately! The young man was polite, friendly and helpful, and in almost no time, we were on our way with a new micro-sim. It was even installed in the phone as the friendly young man offered to do it for me. Wonderful! I was told to leave the phone off for a few minutes, and then try switching it on to see if the new SIM was active. It wasn’t, but I didn’t worry, as the friendly young man had explained that it might take a couple of hours to activate. I would soon be playing with my lovely shiny new phone - I could hardly wait!
I have to be honest here Guy, and admit that I’m not really the most patient person in the world, but I was good - I waited and waited. Unfortunately after five hours the new SIM still wasn’’t working, and the new phone remained unplayed with. I was disappointed, but not cross - after all, these things happen. I rang your customer services, and again I have to credit you on the helpfulness of your staff Guy. The young lady I spoke to was very apologetic, but told me I’d been misinformed in the shop - it could actually take up to 24 hours to activate a new SIM. She offered to escalate it for me, so said it might be done in the next hour or so, but to be on the safe side, I should allow 24 hours from the time of the phone call. I was a little confused as to why the 24 hour wait time had been reset when I phoned up rather than running from the time of my visit to she shop, but I didn’t query it. I was still happy with Vodafone and the friendly helpful staff, and what was another 24 hours between friends after all?
Unfortunately after 24 hours my new SIM and therefore my shiny new phone still weren’t working, so I found it necessary to call your customer services again. I spoke to a young man who was again friendly, and again apologetic - I cannot emphasise enough how good your staff are at apologising - he said that my transfer seemed to be stuck on the system, and that he would have to send the details to the technical team to resolve. He did this for me while I waited on the phone, so I could be sure it was done, but he said that unfortunately it may take another 24 hours from the time he’d sent the report. Once again, he’d been so friendly and helpful that I couldn’t find it in my heart to be cross, and so I thanked him very much for his help, and hung up to begin the latest 24 hour countdown to playing with my shiny new phone.
I think you can probably guess what happened next Guy - it’s not a happy ending unfortunately. After the 24 hours were up - again - I was sad to find that nothing had changed. I still had no working micro-sim, and no working shiny new phone, so I called your customer services again. I spoke to another young man - I do wonder what the ratio of helpful apologetic young men to helpful apologetic young women is in your call centres - who it goes almost without saying was helpful and apologetic. He told me that while I had been correctly informed that my transfer had ground to a halt on the system, I had been incorrectly informed that it would be fixed within 24 hours. In his considerable experience, he had never known this fault to be fixed in less than 3-5 working days!
This was going to be a very long countdown. I was so used to the 24 hour countdowns, that 3-5 days seemed like a lifetime - especially as it was starting on a Saturday, which along with the following Sunday didn’t even count! The latest helpful and apologetic young man told me that my shiny new phone might be working my Wednesday, although it would more likely be Thursday, and there was an outside chance it could be Friday. This seemed like a very long time to me - again, I admit I’m no expert, but it seems to me that in this time I could have ported my number out to another network and back in to Vodafone! However. I realised that the delay wasn’t the fault of the friendly and helpful young man, so I thanked him for his help, and settled down for a long wait until I could use my shiny new phone.
The time passed Guy - although it seemed to pass slowly as my shiny new phone mocked me from the mantelpiece with it’s non working SIM. Wednesday came and went, as did Thursday, so I awoke this morning with mixed feelings. -Some excitement - would today finally be the day? But also a small amount of apprehension. I felt I’d been let down so many times before, I could hardly dare to believe the transfer would actually happen! Sadly my apprehension wasn’t misplaced. My shiny new phone still isn’t working, and the transfer still hasn’t happened.
About 2 hours ago I phoned your customer services yet again. Another young man, who I found to be friendly and apologetic, but sadly not helpful. He told me that I’d been misinformed on my previous 2 calls, and there was nothing that your technical department could do. He had no idea why I’d been told the transfer would go through. All I could do, the young man told me, was to visit the store again for them to sort it out.
I have to confess at this point Guy, that I wasn’t feeling best pleased. I may indeed have raised my voice to the apologetic young man on the other end of the phone. It seems that I’ve wasted over a week waiting for a transfer to go through that never will. I’m once again in the positing of having to try and get into one of your shops, and there’s obviously no guarantee that anything will go any better this time round. I did ask the young man on the phone if I would have to go into the shop for a replacement SIM if I had my phone stolen as it was last year, and he confirmed that I would.
I do feel lucky that I still have a working phone, even if it is old and non-shiny. I admit I’m very annoyed about all the times I’ve been misdirected and misinformed. I also admit to being slightly angry that after over a week I’m still unable to use my new phone. But what really scares me is what would happen if my phone did break, or got stolen and I was without it for over a week as I could well have been recently.
As a disabled person who relies on her phone very much I would love to hear your comments on the Vodafone policy for replacement SIMs as opposed to the service I received last year from Three when I received a new SIM in under 24 hours without leaving my house.