What price customer service?
Those of you who follow me on Twitter or haven’t blocked me on your Facebook Newsfeed because I talk too much will know that I recently decided to transfer my phone back from O2 to Vodafone.
The main reason is that my O2 Sim-Only contract conveniently came to an end two days after my phone died, and when I got in touch with them to discuss an upgrade they were completely uncompetitive. I pointed out that Vodafone and Three could both offer me much better deals, but I was told that O2 “don’t try and compete on price” because they “have the best network.” I would question this, not least because their network apparently lacks the technology for me to receive SMS delivery reports on my Nokia.
However, to be fair to O2, they do apparently offer a better warranty on handsets and on the few occasions that I have needed to call their customer service team I have not had much hassle. This last point is important because my reason for leaving Vodafone after many years with them is because their customer service team was so terrible. Although it had once been very good, my last year with them was punctuated by billing errors, including a few months when I didn’t even have sight of a bill at all. Their call centre staff were inconsistent and their email helpline was staffed by people abroad who seemed to be trained in nothing but copying and pasting paragraphs from a script. If I was lucky their replies to me were coherent or relevant, but I don’t think they were ever both at the same time.
We all know that I am a fan of customer service, and do place a value on it. After all, I fly BA not RyanAir and shop in Waitrose not Tesco. But when I got a call from my dad on Saturday saying that Vodafone could offer us both a joint deal, the price undercut O2 by so much that I just couldn’t refuse it. And surely, I thought, in the last year, someone at Vodafone must have found a dictionary and looked up “Customer Service.”
Sadly, one sometimes pays a price for misguided optimism. As I write this, Vodafone have delivered my dad’s phone, but not mine. They won’t speak to me to arrange redelivery and he is having to negotiate with them on my behalf. Although they took my PAC code yesterday, the last I heard is that my dad may need to re-register a whole new deal for me. Which means that my number may be lost in cyberspace. At this rate I’ll go from having a number and no phone to having a phone and no number.
So it’s a big black mark for Vodafone. I currently don’t know what the outcome will be, but the thought of having a few days longer without a phone to shop around is potentially more appealing than being locked in to two years with this bunch of monkeys.
I’m not sure that O2 can rest on their laurels though. Being proud of customer service is one thing, especially when it is justified. But to lose an existing customer by refusing to be at all competitive on price is just arrogant.