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An open letter to Vodafone February 7, 2008

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

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)


1. edwardpeter, Vodafone UK - February 8, 2008

An interesting read David. Working for Vodafone I’m really disappointed to hear of the recent experience you’ve had with us. I can understand how frustrated you must feel being left without a replacement handset, particularly one you use for work emails as well as calls and so on; I imagine that’s been really disruptive. I’m sure there’ll be something I can do to help and maybe restore your faith in us. If you could fill in Vodafone’s contact form via the link below I’ll look into it for you. Please make sure you enter as many of the requested details as possible. In the message box, please include the code FIT135 (this will direct your email to the Forums team so I’ll pick it up) and you can even add a link to this blog if you like.

I hope I’ll get to speak to you soon,

Vodafone UK

P.S. Here’s the link to the contact form: https://online.vodafone.co.uk/dispatch/Portal/appmanager/vodafone/wrp?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=Page_Help_ContactUs&pageID=CU_0002

2. David Gillespie - February 8, 2008

That I can post the above, go to bed and wake to find this in my comments in the morning is really quite amazing. I’ll definitely be in touch, and I look forward to blogging about it further.

3. Vodafone & the stay of execution « Wide Open Spaces - February 24, 2008

[…] AAMI, Blackberry, customer service, Vodafone Long time listeners-first time callers may recall my recent troubles with Vodafone, mobile carrier to the masses starved for choice. I had come to regard their Australian operations […]

4. How to Get People to Blog About Your Product » Zakazukha Zoo Online Marketing Blog - August 13, 2008

[…] about them and they’d dive right in and start a direct dialogue. Just like The Body Shop and Vodafone UK are doing (read the comments sections of those blogs). Smart corporations have PR people who know […]

5. 21 Questions - part one « Creative Is Not A Department - September 17, 2008

[…] danced with my BlackBerry and came off best. Then the troubles came whcih manifested itself in my Open Letter to Vodafone. I posted it one evening and woke up the next morning to find Vodafone had spotted it and […]

6. Editing Your Own Wikipedia Article » Zakazukha Zoo Online Marketing Blog - September 24, 2008

[…] I was playing around with Wikipedia on behalf of a client this afternoon and was not exactly surprised to see that Tarnya Dunning from Telstra’s public affairs department had been doing the same. Unlike many unscrupulous contributors though (and by god there are many) it was nice to see that she had clearly declared what she was up to and appears to have done so with only the best intentions. Nice one Tarnya. If only Optus were as active and polite in the social media space as you (not to mention Vodafone). […]

7. re: turn on - April 16, 2009

I’m happily with Vodafone, so I don’t have any prejudices against them, but I’m very impressed with Mr. Peter’s comment!

I have my own telco horror story. Back when broadband became widely and cheaply available, I got a little overenthusiastic with downloads (legal of course, ahem) on my Telstra Bigpong account. This was waaaay back in 2005 before ISPs shaped your speed if you exceeded your limit. Imagine my forehead slapping surprise when I got a $900 bill, explaining that I’d exceed my 1gb limit by 5gb. My complaint for lack of notification was curtly written off, as they only notify your Bigpong email, not your contact email!

Let it be said that, rich or poor, zen or materialistic, if someone saves you $900 they’re gonna get a spot high on your hero list. I called the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsmen and made my case with the finest legal jargon I could muster (I was studying a Masters of Industrial Property Law at the time). They must have made like a Navy sniper on a Somali pirate. Within the week I got a call from Telstra’s most conciliatory call worker to explain that they’d dropped the bill. Everything that month, even the minimum account costs.

So with your black belt in social networking and the TIO’s superpowers, I reckon you could bring telcos to their knees. Just don’t get too drunk on the power, we hate to admit it, but we do need them. I can’t see anyone else here laying fibre optic cables and running an exchange server…

8. Telco 3G - December 18, 2009

I received a lot of complaints about vermms.vodafone.es here in my blog at http://www.zecce.com/vermms-vodafone-es-vodafone-spain//

By right, if you’re using Vodafone MMS, you can simply download and view the MMS pictures, sent by your friend.

Anybody encounter the same problem here?

9. Ingrid - June 28, 2010

I have a Vodafone Stick for connecting to the Internet and to have axcess
to my Email’s . But the last two days I can connect to the Internet but not
my Email’s What’s up ?

10. David Gillespie - June 28, 2010

Sorry INgrid, but I can offer no help. I’m just a boy who had a problem with them two years ago.

Come to think of it I still have a problem with them…

11. Editing Your Own Wikipedia Article | e-CBD Blog - January 12, 2012

[…] I was playing around with Wikipedia on behalf of a client this afternoon and was not exactly surprised to see that Tarnya Dunning from Telstra’s public affairs department had been doing the same. Unlike many unscrupulous contributors though (and by god there are many) it was nice to see that she had clearly declared what she was up to and appears to have done so with only the best intentions. Nice one Tarnya. If only Optus were as active and polite in the social media space as you (not to mention Vodafone). […]

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