To the good people at Vodafone customer services;

I’ve been on a Vodafone pay-as-you-go plan since they first came out and largely, the experience has been a good one. I’ve always been able to get a signal – unless I’m in the Sunflower Garden Chinese take-away in Pitmedden – and until today, have only once needed to call customer support.

Ordinarily, I don’t mind dealing with an answering machine. It’s fine when I want to top up the credit on my phone and to have a real person on the other end at hideous o’clock in the morning would be impractical, to say the least. However, when the debit card that I have been using over the past year is refused by the system as “unregistered”, I want to actually speak to someone – preferably someone who knows what they’re doing. Instead of patching me through to an operator, the machine simply told me to call a different number for ‘card related queries’.

So I called the other number, and guess what? A machine answered again. The same shrill voice told me to choose from a list of options, one of which offered the seemingly ellusive ‘help’ that I sought. So I did as I was told – I pressed buttons when prompted and lo-and-behold, was transferred to yet another machine. Following ten minutes of entirely useless advice, I hung up and chose another option, trying to alter my card details through the ridiculous automated process. I presumed that as I’d just moved house, the change of address would be the culprit in making the payment process difficult. I was right, as it turns out, but apparently Vodafone’s voice recognition software can’t understand my half-Sheffield-half-Aberdonian accent. So, rather than transfer me to an advisor, the machine hung up.

No, I’m not kidding, the machine Hung Up. At this point, I got a little mad and decided to try a tactic that I often use when dealing with computers – press any old button until you confuse the machine and are transferred to someone with a pulse. Only, Vodafone’s computer hung up on me again. So, under the advice of a friend, I tried not doing anything, waiting to see if the system would transfer me. But no. I was hung up on for a third time.

At this point, I checked the Vodafone website and then tried dialing the helpline number from my mobile. I didn’t have any credit left though, so the system patched me through to the top-up line which, as my reason for calling in the first place, wasn’t at all helpful.

After another internet search, I found the Vodafone numbers to call from a landline – all of which were 0870. And this is really where Vodafone lost any good-grace I was willing to give. I find it unacceptable that when there is a fault in the system, the paying customer has to spend more money in order to sort it out. Essentially, we’re being charged for the priviledge of a broken phone system.

At least here I finally got through to a living, breathing human being and yes, the fault in the top-up computer was because I’d changed address. The woman on the other end of the line quickly and effectively changed the details and put some more my phone as well.

Time on phone to real person: Under two minutes.

Time on phone to the computer: Close to an hour.

I find it wholly unacceptable the a telephone operator can not be reached by telephone. Heaven forbid my phone ever breaks again. Rather than risk another encounter with the dire machine, I will smash up my phone – and all other technology in my house – and revert to a medieval state of living.

Please do not force such measures upon me.
Yours sincerely,

Frances Moldaschl