Saturday, September 25, 2010


I can't really say I wasn't warned; I've been told about Vodafone's terrible customer service before. But I figured so long as I ordered the phone online, paid by credit card and didn't actually have to interact with their customer service department I'd be fairly safe. They had the cheapest iPhone 4 plans that included everything I'd want to use — or so I thought. So they said.

Now I've been slugged with a major overcharge for using 370-odd megabytes of data in my first month. The plan I signed up to included 1GB, which given my browsing habits should allow me plenty of wiggle room. The plan they actually have me on record as having includes a piddly 50MB, which would kind of defeat some of the purpose of having a bloody iPhone in the first place and which I'd never have signed up for.

I'm OK with them making a mistake like this. They also have a $29/month cap that includes 50MB, and while it'd be kind of weird for the system to sell me an iPhone and then put me on a cap that costs the same but includes different things, I understand that it can and did happen. Kind of like me ordering an iPhone and getting a Galaxy S — it might be worth just as much, but that doesn't mean I want it just as much, and if I pointed out that sort of error I'd expect even Vodafone would be falling over themselves to swap it for me.

But the customer service rep who answered my email asking them to fix it said "we have you on record as only having 50MB, so we're going to assume that our records are correct and that for some reason you didn't get the iPhone 4 plan when you bought your iPhone but instead you got the dumbphone plan that costs the same and includes less, but we're feeling generous so we'll sign you up for our promotional deal that'll give you an extra 200MB a month from now on". They didn't mention whether this promotional deal cost extra, and they certainly didn't give me any indication that they were going to remove my overcharge.

I know the mistake isn't on my end. I have a screencap of the website that sold me the deal, and Quincy's on the same plan and her bill lists her extra data and the fact that it costs her nothing. It doesn't bother me that much that they made an honest mistake. What galls me the most is that they don't even consider the possibility that they did make an honest mistake, and their tone — "you're wrong and stupid, but we'll do something unrelated not to make up for it but just because we're being like, super-nice (and to make you feel bad about accusing us of being unfair)".

Ugh, and it's a 24 month contract too. When the iPhone 6 comes around, I'll hang the price premium and go with Telstra.

UPDATE: I've got an email now saying they'll try to honour what the website said, but they have to go to some other department. I hope they take more than a week to get back to me this time. Add "lousy corporate organisation" to "bad customer service". I really shouldn't have had to threaten them with taking the matter to Consumer Affairs in order to get what I paid for.


  1. When did phone companies turn to the dark side?
    I have heard so many tales of agony. My own worst experience was with Optus, trying to organise a replacement landline for the one that died (along with the bloody internet)... they scheduled installation for three weeks away, THEN realised they got our address wrong and had to reschedule for two more weeks away. We were without internet for more than two months, and I was on hold on the phone for about half that time...
    Oh, plus, when we went to cancel the service (we were moving out) they said we'd have to pay two separate cutoff fees (about $200 each) for the phone and internet despite the fact that we signed up for them as a single service (and we weren't going to get phone in the first place - they convinced us to, on grounds that the bundle was cheaper than internet alone...)

  2. Things like this make me miss Virgin. They had awesome customer service.

  3. One thing that sometimes helps is to tweet with the #fail tag... or, at least, it seemed to work for me with Optus a couple of months ago. (See this tweet.)

    A day later, I had a link to their on-line problem submission form (which is otherwise not available), and a couple of days after that they called us, taking into account time-zone difference.

    I don't know if it'd work the same way with a #vodaphone #fail, but it's probably worth a try...

    In any case, hope it manages to sort itself out!

  4. Ta for that, Jiri. Might use that if the situation isn't resolved as promised.