or.. “Why Vodafone should offer compensation for wasting a week of my time”.
The Vodafone twitter team requested I write this article, and I am glad they have. It will be a great opportunity to document what I would consider some of the worst customer service that I think I have ever been party to.
It started over a week ago, when one of the Purple Oranges team who had just purchased a new handset contacted Vodafone to get the unlock code for his device after trying the web interface and receiving an incorrect code.
He explained that the code supplied on the Vodafone Australia unlock site didn’t work, and was told they would have to talk to the unlocking team, and they might get back to him some time in the next 10 business days. For those playing at home, that’s two weeks. And – as far as I am concerned – two weeks is just about two weeks too long.
If you own the hardware, and through no fault of your own can’t use that hardware – then why should you be inconvenienced?
I personally got involved a few days later, calling VHA to find out why it could possibly take so long to retrieve a code. I was assured in no uncertain terms that I was mistaken – and the code was correct. I tried everything I could to convince the abrasive consultant that the code was not working. They did everything they could to convince me that I was somehow mistaken – and the code would work. When they realised that I wasn’t going away – they hung up on me.
So, I called back.
This next operator was at least a little more helpful. After initially assuring me that the code was correct, they at least paused to listen to my assertion that it was in fact not working. They placed me on hold to talk with the unlocking team, and came back to assure me that the code is correct.
Again, there being nowhere to go – the call was ended.
Friday afternoon, I tried calling again. I got the offer of a return call in 30 minutes, so I entered my number. Two hours later (late Friday evening) VHA returned my call. I was annoyed, but hopeful. This was the first operator who actually took the time to listen to the issue. He initially insisted that the number would be correct, but finally agreed to have somebody call me the following day when he started his shift from technical support to resolve the problem.
Saturday evening, true to his word (which shocked the pants off me) I received a call from VHA, as promised – the operator was ready to transfer me to technical support. Sadly, my happy face disappeared when the person I was transferred to told me that they were from Nokia – and couldn’t help me, and there ended the call.
As luck would have it, this particular VHA operator followed up to check the problem was resolved about 20 minutes later. When I explained that I had been transferred to Nokia – he apologised, and tried to find somebody again. However, as it was now late Saturday evening – nobody was available.
Notes were put on the account authorising an in-store return. Given that VHA were adamant the subsidy unlock code was correct, the hardware must be faulty. The unit was summarily swapped on Sunday.
About 30 minutes after the unit was swapped, we realised we had a serious issue to deal with. The new device also did not work with it’s subsidy unlock code.
Come Monday morning I started to feel quite confident that VHA and their staff weren’t going to resolve this any time soon, so I started my contact with Motorola. Initially, they were hesitant to discuss carrier unlocking a device – but after I explained the sheer lack of customer service experienced with Vodafone – they were happy to at least try and help.
Initially they contacted their support / unlocking team – which confirmed that the number I had was likely to be correct. We agreed to follow their instruction – and leave the device idle for 12 hours. Then try the code again.
…12 Hours later, we were no closer to having an unlocked handset.
I called Motorola to follow up, who were apologetic. A call was lodged for their engineering team, and we were given a new number to try. This unlock code was completely different then the one supplied by VHA – so we were excited and hopeful. Sadly however, it also did not work.
Motorola engineering were again contacted, and today we received a phone call from a very happy Motorola operator. It turns out the devices need 16 digit subsidy codes. The codes on file at VHA were incorrect. And I’m assuming we are the first to try and unlock a handset, because even Motorla didn’t realise.
This is ultimately an issue caused by Motorola. If indeed it is true that they supplied the wrong codes to VHA – then that is most assuredly the root cause of our issue here.
VHA’s hands however are far from clean. They are covered in dirt in fact. It would be reasonable to assume that VHA has a business to business channel of communication open to Motorola that I don’t have access to. And as such, you could be forgiven for assuming that had VHA made an effort to talk about this problem directly with Motorola – it would have been resolved significantly faster then I managed to get it done as a consumer (for those not keeping track – it took me two business days with Motorola).
VHA’s stance is that the issue has nothing to do with them. Although I spent many hours (I have a log of all my communications with them) either on hold, being hung up on, or generally having to try and convince their own staff of the issue… Some how – there abhorrent customer service is Motorola’s fault.
Stand behind your name VHA, apologise that we had so much time wasted on something that could easily have been resolved in 48 – 72 hours. Our paging service is hosted at VHA, and I am giving very serious thought to closing our account. I know they are entirely separate teams – and I honestly only have great things to say about the paging team. But this issue can not be overlooked – how can I be assured that one day I won’t have to deal with this same sort of ignorance in other departments at VHA if they clearly don’t care that it’s happening in their mobile phone area?
[UPDATE 25/11/2010 10:44]
Obviously information about the invalid codes is not being shared internally at VHA. We just received the email below from their Correspondance Team.
Thank you for your email,
Vodafone do pride themselves on a high level of customer service and I am disappointed this what not the level of service you received. I would be more then happy to look into this for you.
To unlock a handset there is a series of keys you need to hit in a particular order then followed by the unlock code. If you use only the unlock code the handset won’t unlock.
I have looked up your IMEI number for your handset to check the instructions, and it came back with the response that there is a charge for you to retrieve your unlocking instructions. You can also obtain these by going to www.vodafone.com.au/unlock.
If you have already obtained your full unlocking instructions, I would recommend you taking them into a store and having the dealer go through them with you manually. This way, if anything goes wrong, you will also have someone there to assist you further.
If have any further enquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact us again,
I hope you are having a good week,
Vodafone Pty Limited ABN 76 062 954 554
Not only does it show that they are completely unaware the lock code is incorrect – it also is a great written example of just what we had to endure with the telephone staff, the complete lack of understanding that the customer may actually be doing it correctly – and it may be Vodafone’s issue – not the customers stupidity.
Finally – it also shows a failure in their record keeping – the handset in question is not subsidised – as such – there should be no unlock fee.