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Wed, 23 Mar 2011

Customer service, again

I have had more awesomely bad customer service, and more pretty damned good service too. Again, the bad service was from Vodafone, and the good service from a company that I don't even pay.

As I mentioned in an earlier installment, I was unhappy with Vodafone and decided to fire them. I eventually went back to O2, because even though they weren't great (their data network is slooooow almost everywhere) they do at least offer service throughout London. And so I needed to get a PAC code from Vodafone so that I could port my number back to O2.

Both O2 and T-mobile were able to give me a PAC code immediately when I was bouncing around between telcos earlier. Vodafone at first appeared to be able to do that, with the nice gentleman in their call centre reading it out to me there and then. Unfortunately, after he'd told me "VCN50753" the call dropped just before he told me the last digit. (Hmm, the call dropped. Think that might be why I'm changing telcos?) I called back, only to be lied to and told that it was completely impossible for any of their staff to tell me a PAC code and that I would get it by SMS within four days. Naturally, I didn't. Over the next 11 days I called them four times, each time being given new excuses and being told it would take another two days - two "business days", of course, because apparently their computers get the weekend off work and don't generate codes then. Finally, a "manager" (yeah right, it was just some other call centre grunt) did it yet again, this time "following the correct procedures". Of course, the SMS I was promised never arrived and when I called them for the last time, someone just read the damned thing out to me over the phone. It was VCN507532. So, for thirteen days they had the code and just wouldn't give it to me.

Last time, I said that fixing the customer's problem isn't the most important thing in customer service, keeping the customer informed is. Well, if there's anything worse than bad communication it's wrong communication. I was lied to for two weeks. I don't particularly care that for those two weeks I had to have two phone contracts, but I care an awful lot about being lied to.

I was a Vodafone customer for a long time a few years ago, before my flirtations with T-mobile for a coupla years (because their data plans were a lot cheaper) and with O2 (because iPhones were originally tied to them), but the old Vodafone, four years and more ago, treated me well. On the rare occasions I had to talk to them they just got shit done and I didn't have to call them twice on the same subject. They had a damned good network too, with good coverage everywhere. I doubt I'll ever go back to Vodafone again. They've let their technology go to shit and what used to be a good voice network is now a piss-poor data network and a piss-poor voice network, with woeful coverage even in the centre of London. But continually lieing to their customer is the ultimate sin.

And the good service that I mentioned right at the beginning? Because of a stupid bug in the iPhone software - it doesn't come with a to-do list application - I use a third-party application called Toodledo. My list is also available to me on my desktop via their website. And I found a bug in the webby version. I reported it, and cynically expected to maybe get a terse acknowledgement a week or two later and then nothing more. What I got in reality was, at the very beginning of the next "business day", both an acknowledgement that yes, there was a bug, but also a brief but helpful note with a work-around. Again, good customer service, from a small company, who I'm not a paying customer of, simply comes down to quick, clear and true communication.

Posted at 19:59 by David Cantrell
keywords: etiquette | rant
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