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An open letter to Vodafone February 7, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in marketing, work/life.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
11 comments

Dear Vodafone,

We’ve been friends for a while now, since 2003. I was with your competition, but they were a touch incompetent. I’m an international sort of guy and I liked what you were about. Plus the girl I was seeing at the time used you, and if I can trust someone enough to swap bodily fluids, then surely I can take a punt on their carrier of choice.

Things were great initially, new number was easy to remember, the free calls to my true love, and after my friends finally stopped calling the old digits, it seemed like everyone was using you. Great! Nothing like being part of the crowd to make a guy feel good about himself.

Time passed, things changed, but you remained the same. The girl had other ideas but you stayed true, online 24/7 so my friends could call and console me, even offering me new phones every now and then so I didn’t think about running to your competitors. You even stayed online once new girls started to call me. You were good to me, and I was good to you. We were good to each other (and really, how many people can we say that about?!?!).

Lately though, things haven’t been the same. When my last phone was an absolute piece of shit, you weren’t there for me, even though you had offered it up under the guise of a “reward”. That wasn’t cool. You knew better. You’ve been OK (generally) about my new pride and joy, but as I sit here, waiting on hold to find out when you’ll be done assessing my insurance claim, I’ve begun to wonder if maybe it isn’t time to move on.

Last week, when all I needed was to give you my poor Blackberry Pearl to be repaired or replaced after a nasty run-in with the Great Southern Ocean, you kept me on hold for 40 minutes. FORTY. With the ear piece glued to my ear as, funnily enough, I need the damn thing for work.

After that I had to drive to a store. A proper store, with bricks and things holding it up. I was willing to at least experiment with the idea, we have after all been together a while, and I do want to try and make it work. But then your people (it is probably the best way to describe them, though it is in no way indicative of their true, insidious and hidden dark form) just didn’t care. Really. I don’t mean they were a touch laissez faire, I mean they did not care, the way a mother turtle might lay eggs and then waddle off into yonder sea, black beret tilted just so, cigarette in mouth muttering “C’est la vie…” as the gulls make ready to swoop. Not only that, they were poorly trained. Perhaps they had skipped the sections on product knowledge, retail management and general courtesy and focussed solely on Appendices with titles such as “101 ways to ignore customers” and “Things you can do to avoid doing your job”. Understand, I’m not being snooty. I worked retail for years while at university. In fact I worked it full-time while studying to help my parents pay their bills; what I’m saying is I know the job can be a bitch, and I know there are extenuating circumstances that may make you feel like not being there. And there’s a word for people like that, certainly for the people that manned your store that day: useless. I have other words too, like lazy, self-absorbed, and waste-of-space. Get over it or change your line of work; I hear they’re still short on sand bags in New Orleans!

I’m not sure which moment stands out more – the dull glimmer of acknowledgment once a particularly fine specimen of cro magnon man clocked my person in the store (I was the only one) or when I had to correct him on his own form, advising him that “Store contact info” probably did not mean my home address. I reluctantly left the phone in his ape-ish hands and, with little option wandered into the 3 Mobile Store located conveniently next door, to get a cheap, pre-paid Skype phone. Funnily enough, they were no better (maybe it’s just telecommunications retail staff in general, I know a website that can help you with that).

I was told it would be 3 – 5 working days before I had my phone back (or a new one). Great success, I can live with that. And being a little distanced from the office by not getting my email on my phone? Good for the soul.

So when it hit seven days, I became a little concerned. I decided to call your number for a chat, thinking I would show a bit of proactivity, touch base, get an up date. Not spend 45 minutes this time waiting for my call to be answered. Seriously, I know you have problems, we all have problems. But 45 minutes? Were you making soufflé by way of apology? Did I miss the invitation? I’m pretty sure I played my part, I know this dance well as I did it once already.

The thing that really brings a smile to my face though is what your insurance people finally have to say to me, after the 45 minute rehearsal. It seems when my account was switched over onto the Blackberry and away from a device born from Satan’s own loins, the miscreant we’ll (for the sake of the argument) call “a customer service representative” didn’t move the insurance with it. So, I have an already broken and utterly useless Nokia 6288 that I haven’t had a call on since July under insurance. And I have the phone you helped me switch to meeting an untimely end on a beach in Lorne. This is the equivalent of trading in a Datsun, acquiring a Nissan Z and then the mechanic being surprised when you show up with it. “Where’s the Datsun?” they ask bewildered. “Datsun?” you say, “YOU WERE THERE WHEN IT LEFT!!”

So, my course of action is pretty simple here. We’ve had fun, really, we’ve had a ball. You’ve been there through thick and thin and captured some things on various media devices it’d be best if my parents never saw. I’m going to call in the morning and try to sort this out with your account people. If we cannot make it work, I’m going to cite irreconcilable differences. Nobody likes a drawn out custody battle, and I think we both saw this coming.

One more chance Vodafone, what happens after that is entirely up to you.

Yours sincerely,

David Gillespie
(disgruntled customer)

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