(Yet) another rant about Vodafone

I don’t know where to start explaining how annoyed I am with Vodafone!

On Thursday my Android phone just suddenly died – I tried everything but nothing would make it come back to life again. So on Friday I looked at the Vodafone site. It took a while as the information was well hidden but I eventually found out that the phone was covered by a warranty and that as I had Vodafone’s Cover Me insurance I would get a courtesy phone too! I rang up and spoke to someone and he confirmed all of this and told me to take the phone into a Vodafone shop and they would sort it out for me. I felt quite pleased but experience told me it probably wouldn’t be as good as it seemed. In fact I put this on my Facebook status:

Have to say Vodafone surprised me today – turns out that according to the man I spoke to my phone is under warranty and my insurance will give me a courtesy phone while it’s being repaired. Now whether or not that is the reality when I go into the shop tomorrow remains to be seen!!

My expectation, having seen the subject to availability notice was that I would get to the shop to be told “sorry we don’t have any courtesy phones left” .Curiously it wasn’t the case although I think it would have been better if it had been. I took the phone in for repair and was given this phone:

Basically it’s a bog standard phone that allows me to make calls and send text messages and not much else. The man in the shop put my sim card into it and said “oh there’s no contacts on your sim card” Well duh! of course there aren’t my phone is an Android and they don’t work like that. I pointed out that if that was the phone they were giving me I would have no access to my contacts, diary or any of the other things I use my phone for. He suggested that I phone Customer Services.

So I did and this started a whole 3 hours of complete bollocks which ended up with the suggestion that they credit my account with £30 and I go round the second hand shops trying to find a second hand Android phone for that amount, pay for it myself and wait till next month to recover the money. The only thing that they were able to offer was money – I told them on several occasions that I’d rather have good service than money. Every person I spoke to said they could see my point of view but weren’t able to do anything about it!

At the end of the day Vodafone and other phone companies are selling products that go beyond a simple mobile phone. However that is all they are saying they offer when something goes wrong. Is it too much to ask that I be provided with a phone that works on the same operating system as the one I’ve been paying for for the last 18 months? I’ve paid something like £360 in insurance over the last 3 years and not claimed until now and this is the best they can offer – typical of insurance companies to take large premiums and pay out the absolute minimum.

It’s also the second phone in a row I’ve got by signing up to a 24 month contract only to find that the phone only lasts 18 months! I see from other comments on Facebook that I’m not alone in having this experience! I also can’t understand why Vodafone seem to spend so much time and effort trying to placate angry customers by offering to credit their accounts when they seem to spend so little time and effort keeping them happy in the first place. My contract ends in a few months and this time I fully intend to look around and see what is on offer from other companies before I decide on an upgrade from Vodafone – well done chaps I’ve been a customer for 10 years and you’ve pissed me off once too often!

So I tried to get to grips with the phone I was given. I’ve had smart phone for at least 7 or 8 years now and haven’t had to use the abc type input on a phone for at least 10 years so trying to get to grips with it was painfully slow – it took me 5 minutes to type the message “got a phone, of sorts” in a text message to Sarah and then I couldn’t bloody remember her number as I just use it stored in contacts! It was, however, my attempt to use the internet on it that was the final straw. It was slow, painfully slow and trying to do anything in a postage stamp sized screen drove me nuts.

So I went out to my shed and rummaged in my drawer. I found my old Qtek 9600 which I had when we went to Australia back in 2006. Even though the phone is probably 7 or 8 years old it still has more functionality on it than the one I was given as a “courtesy” phone. So the Samsung has gone back into the box where it will stay until I get to pick up my repaired phone. They said a week but I don’t intend to hold my breath!!

Water update

Following on from my previous blog I thought I’d give an update on Southern Water’s abortive attempts to install compulsory water meters in our street. After 3 days or so of randomly digging holes in our street it seems they have been unable to fit any water meters at all. Seems that they haven’t taken into account the proximity of electric cables to the water pipes and the design of the water meter means they can’t fit them. They’ve gone away to stratch their heads for a bit but have promised to return. Let’s hope they got the meters on sale or return!

Anyway after they had left on Friday evening Sarah spotted that at the top of our street the brave and wonderful contractors who are (trying to) install water meters in order to allow us to save water had left a pipe gushing water into the street. Presumably as it was Friday night they had planned to leave this gushing away all weekend wasting gallons and gallons – maybe we’re not so water stressed after all.

She phoned up Southern Water and they did send out a plumber and a work team to fix it but it makes you wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t. I do wonder if Southern Water have made a good choice of contractors with Balfour Beatty and if they aren’t trying to do this whole water meter installation thing on the cheap.

And while we are on the subject of Balfour Beatty we spotted this sign on Sunday walking back from the shops. It was attached to one of the barriers they’d left strewn around the street over the weekend – presumably because that was easier than taking them back to the depot. The sign gives a list of points that the contractors should follow when working on behalf of Southern Water.

I think you can see from this blog and the previous blog that none of these points have been adhered to.

And while we’re on the subject of updating the customer. As we left the house on Sunday I lifted up the flap outside and instead of seeing the stopcock all I could see was tarmac. When they filled in the hole after their attempt to install the meter they have truly filled it in and prevented access to the stopcock. Did they tell us this when they did it – No! Did they tell us this when they phoned on Monday to explain why we didn’t have a water meter – No!

So Sarah raised it with them. Oh well they replied – you will have a stopcock inside the house you can use that in an emergency. It’s just as well we found out ourselves before we did have and emergency and had to spend ages trying to find out where the internal one was to turn off the water.

Southern Water are proving to be a proper shower!

Dear Amazon

I ordered something from you on the 10th December which I intended to give to my wife for her Christmas Present. It’s now almost 2 weeks later and my last day at work before Christmas and it still hasn’t turned up. I have seen all of the apologies on your website about how there is a backlog due to the snow but I still think the delivery time has been unacceptable. Let me explain why!

At the beginning of December I won a 2011 Grateful Dead calendar in a competition on Facebook. This was posted to me from Chicago and it has arrived.

A day or two earlier I bought a microphone from ebay which was sent – postage free – from Hong Kong – this has also arrived.

Based on the above I have to ask the question – where is your warehouse? Mars?

Also in that time my wife has bought a pair of boots from ebay, returned them as they were faulty and received the replacement pair. If all of these companies can manage to get their deliveries out why can’t you?

I won’t now get this item until the start of January, luckily for me my wife’s birthday just after Christmas so I can give this to her as a birthday present instead – do you think you can manage to get it to me by the 24th?

I have to say it has been fun watching your company commit business suicide this Christmas and I hope you manage to stay open long enough for us to spend the vouchers that my brother-in-law has sent us – and of course the refund you will no doubt be giving me as compensation for your appalling service this December.

Looking after your world

Our world is very cold at the moment.

This is the second time our world has been very cold in the past few weeks.

We are now in our third day without any heating.

Who is looking after our world?

That’s right – British Gas – we have a Homecare package with them.

On Sunday we went out to do some shopping and when we returned we noticed that the heating wasn’t on. On closer inspection the pilot light had gone out. We tried to relight it and after a few tries the automatic ignition kicked in. About half an hour later we noticed the radiators had gone cold again so we tried to relight it again but to no avail. Since then we have had no heating or hot water at all.

At this point I would like to take you back a couple of weeks to the beginning of December when the first big snowfall happened. We got up one morning and noticed that the heating wasn’t on and we couldn’t get the pilot light to come one so we called British Gas. Once we got through we were informed that the earliest they could get an engineer to us was the following day between 8am and 1pm. This was despite the advert they had been running a few weeks earlier:

We did however give them the benefit of the doubt as there was a foot of snow outside and we hadn’t been anywhere for a day or two ourselves. So we sat and shivered with our only source of heat being an oil filled radiator that I’d got off Freecycle originally for the garage at the Big Blue House. There was one niggling annoyance going round in my head though…..

A few weeks earlier we had called out British Gas when we discovered a wet patch on the bedroom ceiling and they had sent someone round to find the source of the leak. When we booked the call the person in the call centre advised us that our boiler was due a service and would we like the engineer to do it while he was round. We said yes but when the man came he told us that it wasn’t due until January 2011 so he wasn’t going to do it. The question spinning round in my head was – if he had serviced it would it have failed? I guess we will never know.

Anyway when the Gas people turned up the following day scraping in with minutes to go before 1pm they informed us that the problem was due to a seized fan which they then set about lubricating and thankfully it was soon fixed and the house began to warm up. We did notice shortly after they went that the fan was making a funny noise but we assumed it would be ok. Which it was for about 2 weeks.

So on Sunday when it failed again we rang up to get the engineer to come out again, however the first problem was getting them to answer their phone. It was over half an hour before someone finally answered. They informed us that the earliest they could get someone out was Tuesday – so much for their service promise again. Sarah pointed out that we have a 5 year old and shouldn’t we be a priority – she was informed that this was a priority call! This time they could only give us the time the engineer would call as being between 8am and 6pm which makes further nonsense of their advertising and service level promises.

To let you get on with your day!!! The timescale they gave us meant that Sarah would effectively be stuck in till they came which could, in all likelihood, be at 5:55 pm! Luckily the man came at about 11am but without a phonecall – you know the one their engineers are committed to – good job she hadn’t gone out to “get on with her day”.

After inspecting the system he advised us that the fan should have been replaced on the last visit as he always replaced them – this made us feel better!! The bad news was that he didn’t have one on the van – you would think that given the fact they were called out 2 weeks after having a problem with the fan they would have thought about it and made sure that he had one with him – maybe that’s too simple! Anyway he would have to come back…………tomorrow! So we now have another 24 hours without heating or hot water.

So before I started to write this blog I decided to search on the web to find the images of the adverts that I’ve used above and my first point of call was the British gas Website. As the page opened I saw this;

So for amusement I decided to click on the link and see what excuses they were using and when I did this was what I got:

Should I have expected anything else from a company I once said that I would rather gnaw my own arm off than have them as my supplier again! In fact while we were sitting there freezing, the first time,  we had a man from British gas ring us up to try and get us to change to them for our gas and electric supply. He said he could save us money, despite this being only a few days after British Gas had announced a 7% rise in their prices. I then asked what their unit costs were and this he struggled to give me which made me wonder how he could guarantee to save me money without knowing how much their prices were or indeed how much we were currently paying or indeed actually using!

The only reason we have the Homecare package with them is that we inherited it when we moved into the Big Blue House and kind of kept it on when we moved. In fact this situation of having to call them out several times for the same problem is not new. At the big Blue House we had to call them out 4 times for a problem where the hot water would just stop. On the fourth visit the engineer asked us “has anyone been up to the attic to look at the tank?”. They hadn’t because if they had they would have discovered the inlet ballcock was sticking and stopping the header tank filling up.

And talking of header tanks we had a problem with the heating a while back and I discovered the reason. The previous British gas engineer had turned off the supply to the central heating header tank to fix a leak and hadn’t turned it back on which meant the system was slowly running out of water. The engineers seem to cause more problems than they actually solve. If the engineers could solve the problems on their first visits it would save the company a fortune and maybe they wouldn’t have so many people calling them up with problems at the coldest times of the year. Oh and one final question – if they know they are going to be busy at this time of the year why don’t they gear up for it instead of just letting their system get overwhelmed?

I think we shall be reviewing this contract very closely when it come up for renewal – that’s assuming we don’t ask for compensation first!