6th June - My girlfriend's contract has expired and she is interested in the iPhone. We call Orange, who she is with, and ask what sort of deal they can do. They are very helpful, and offer a 32Gb 3GS for £89, with a monthly contract of 600 minutes, unlimited SMS, internet and Wifi for £31.50 per month. We think this is a good deal, but before accepting it, decide to call my provider, Vodafone, and ask what sort of deal they can do, if we take out the phone as a second line in my name.
I call Vodafone, and start to explain the deal we have been offered. The customer service rep cuts across me, and tells me (quite rudely) that "No-one does a deal on the iPhone". He refuses to believe that we have been offered any such deal.
I am stunned that the company I have just approached to take out two expensive smartphone lines with have just called me a liar. I speak to the line manager of the customer service rep, who offers to match the deal, but with £29 for a 16gb iPhone instead. She repeatedly says to me during the conversation "I would be very surprised if Orange honour that deal". It's clear she doesn't believe me either. I ask to take some time to think about it, and she gives me her email address. I email her later explaining that, while it's a decent offer, we won't be taking it. I am not happy that Vodafone would continue to refuse to believe I was offered such a deal, and think I was just trying to "pull a fast one".
Having taken the deal, and been disbelieved by two member of Vodafone staff, I submit a complaint to Vodafone.
9th June - I have received no answer from Vodafone customer services regarding the complaint. I call and ask how long they normally take to reply. I am told 48 hours. I explain that it has been longer than this. The customer service rep says "oh, it must be 48 *working* hours". I ask if she's sure, because that would be over a week. This seems like quite a long time. She isn't sure, and doesn't see why I would care about the difference. I search the Vodafone site for an answer to this, but can only find the efourm. I submit a question there, asking if anyone knows what the timescale is. Someone from the forum deletes my question, and cals me (this is good customer service, I was happy with this). I think his name was either Mark or Marcus. I explain everything to him, and that I am really quite unhappy with the service I have received so far. He apologises to me, and asks what he can do. I ask if I can be let out of my contract. He says no, they could do an early upgrade, but not with the iPhone. I point out I didn't want an iPhone, my girlfriend wanted one, and she happily received one from Orange. He asks me if there is a phone I'm interested in, and I say yes, the HTC Desire. He says someone from sales will call me back.
Someone from sales does call me back. She offers me a HTC Desire, on an 18 month contract for £30, or the same on a 24 month for £25, which is apparently £5 off each. I take the 18 month for £30. The sales rep tells me they are out of stock at the moment, but I will have it within 7 days. This seems fine.
14th June - I realise I'm not entirely sure what tariff I've been offered. I call and ask for confirmation of this. I am sent an email that is comprised entirely of the line "Your agreement as follows agreed upgrade deal for HTC Desire-when in stock 600 mins usms vmi 30 18mth You will recieve confirmation when handset is in stock."
17th June - During this time, I keep an eye on the eforum. I lot of people are very annoyed about how long it is taking to get the Desire. I'm not, I understand that this is an issue with HTC, and wait. The people on the forum say they were told that stock was coming in on the 17th, and that they should call then to make sure they're getting one. I call on the 17th, and ask if that's the case. I'm told they're not in, but that they should be in the next day. I am advised to call in the next day. I ask if that will actually achieve anything, or if I would just receive it in due course anyway. I am told it is definitely worth calling in. I am left with the impression that they are being allocated to those that call in.
18th June - I call Vodafone to ask about stock. I am passed to the deliveries people at DPD. This doesn't sound right, and sure enough, they say it's nothing to do with them. I call back. I am passed to five different departments, including the main customer service number three times. I ask if it's just possible for someone to find out who should be dealing with this, and call me back. I'm told it's not. I'm asked whether this is an online or phone order. I start to explain that I don't know, as it was done by the eforums team, but over the phone. I'm also unsure as it's in response to a complaint, not a normal upgrade. I say start, because I am interrupted by a rude customer service agent, who just says "Well, what's your order number then?" He is annoyed when I say I don't have it, and start to explain why. Again, he cuts me off. When I point out I've had no order number, and haven't even been given proper written details of my new tariff, he starts reading out entries on my account notes to me. He is pretty rude about this, making it clear he thinks I'm stupid. There appears to be more info on my notes than anything I've ever been told. I point out I don't even know what some of the things in the email I received are, and that's all I've had. He explains vmi, and and tells me to wait. I am also told there was no point in calling. I point out that I didn't want to in the first place, and was persuaded to by the customer service rep the day before.
I ask on the forum for an address to write to with all of this, as it's been a bit of a farce, and takes a long time to explain. The complaints form on the website wouldn't be sufficient, as it is not long enough. I receive an email from the eforum team, telling me that they've deleted the request as it is account specific (it wasn't, it only asked for an address to write a complaint to, and included no details). I am asked to reply with details of my phone number, my name, and what my complaint is. I reply, and am told that someone will get back to me within 48 hours.
21st June - I receive the following email from Vodafone:
Firstly let me thank you for your patience over the delay in receiving your handset.
We’ve received news that the HTC Desire will not be available to order until the end of June.
Because of this news, we would like to offer you the opportunity to order the HTC Legend as an alternative device.
Should you wish to take advantage of this offer, we will reduce your monthly line rental by a further £5 per month in line with our current business rules.
Please reply to this email if you wish to switch to the HTC Legend, if you are happy to wait for the Desire then you need take no further action as we’ll order your handset as soon as we can."
As there is a significat delay, I email back, asking if it is possible to give the Legend back within 7 days if I don't like it. It's not the phone I ordered, but is similar, and a bit cheaper per month. I am assured that I can. I clarify the contract, because as mentioned before, the only thing I have had in writing is a one line textspeak email. In the end I accept, thinking it will be a while before the Desire comes in anyway, and it was nice of Vodafone to offer it in the first place, and I ought to see if it will do. That seven days will be up before the end of June anyway, so it doesn't make any real difference.
22nd June - I receive the Legend. It seems nice enough, but it's not really the phone I wanted. It's a bit small, and a little underpowered for what I'd like. It also seems to lose reception in my house. I then start getting responses from the eforum.
It seems people who ordered their Desire phones after me were receiving their phones that day. It also seems that Vodafone will not be receiving any more until September. I have not been able to get through to Vodafone to confirm this. This is the day after I was offered a downgrade, and the same day as I received the Legend. I cannot believe Vodafone didn't know they'd received the Desires the same day, as they must have arrived at Vodafone the day before delivery to customers, ie, the same day I was offered the Legend. I feel like I have been scammed. I can only assume that Vodafone didn't receive enough Desires to fulfil all of the orders placed, and so offered this deal to thin the list of people waiting for them. If I want the phone I originally ordered, it looks like I have to wait until September.
Having checked my account, it seems I'm also on an 24 month contract, not the 18 month I was offered. I have still not received a reply to my complaint, so I send a chaser email, pointing out that is has now been four days. I eventually receive an email from Kimberly Appleton. She says sorry, and tells me she'll pass on my concerns to the relevant department. I reply, saying thank you for the sentiment, but it doesn't actually help address any of the issues. I point out that I appear to have missed out on the phone I asked for, and appear to have been put on the wrong contract. No reply yet received.
23rd June - I receive an email about my account and upgrade, advising me of my new price plan. It includes a £5 per month charge (first month free) on top of my tariff for sat nav. I've never asked for it. It has never, ever, been mentioned to me. But apparently, I've got it. It has now been 24 hours since my email to Kimberly, so I send a chaser, asking for someone to call me and discuss.
So far, I feel that Vodafone have called me a liar, offered me a new phone by way of an apology, lied to me about when to expect the phone, failed to provide me with information regarding the tariff until some time later, talked me into accepting an inferior phone so I can get it sooner (only to find out that I wouldn't have waited any longer for the Desire), placed me on a longer contract, added a new charge I didn't ask for, and failed to respond to my concerns when I point any of this out. The worst thing is, if I just cancel the new phone, I'll still have to wait out the remainder of my old contract. I feel like a total mug. I only wanted to get this sorted before going into hospital next week, so it was out of the way. I wish I'd never bothered.
What I'd like now is the phone I ordered, on the tariff I was offered. If I can't have that, I'd like to be able to cancel my contract with Vodafone without having to pay off what's left of the line rental (or at least at a discount), but I'm sure that's not happening.