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Written by: on February 2, 2010

It’s an absolute joke!” I hissed down the phone to the poor, unsuspecting call centre operative Matt, who was unfortunate enough to pick up the phone to me last month. Far from being annoyed at my rudeness, Matt agreed sheepishly that their customer service had been far from acceptable in recent months and was most apologetic.

I wasn’t trying to do anything unusual or confusing. I had simply wanted to change from a Vodafone pay-as-you-go phone to a shiny new contract phone. Online ordering seemed easy enough, and when the form asked if I wanted to keep my old number I got hold of my PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) and entered it in the little box asking me to do so. Only it turns out you are only supposed to do this if you are keeping your number from a different network, which I, being the loyal Vodafone customer that I am, was not.

After the confirmation email came telling me to wait for a second email confirming the dispatch of my new phone, I was surprised that two weeks later there was still no second email: it was time to ring customer services. The first woman was friendly enough – she heard me out then passed me on to the “right department”, who in turn passed me on to the “right department”… until FOUR departments later I eventually arrived at the “right department” to be kindly informed that the solution to my phone having not arrived was to wait. Just be patient and wait. The computer was apparently very confused because I had entered my PAC code into that little box, when in fact I was not trying to “port” my number from one network to another but rather to “migrate” from one type of SIM to another. Of course, now I understood. Just a few more days and my phone should arrive.

Two weeks later: no email and no new phone. That day, I decided to check the credit on my pay-as you-talk phone to see how much this delay was costing me. The automated voice asked me to enter my phone number, which was unusual. I typed in my number and was told, “we are sorry but this pay-as-you-go number does not exist, please try again.” Only, she was wrong because I was holding the phone in my hand and had received a phone call earlier that day: it most definitely did exist.

Bewildered and furious, I rang customer services to try and solve the two mysteries of the missing phone and the missing pay-as-you go-number. I thought I had better sound like I meant business but the first man I spoke to could not care less about my problems and informed me that my order had been cancelled due to the faulty entry of the PAC code. But I had not received an email telling me it had been cancelled, I replied. When your order is cancelled, you are not told, you simply have to work it out from the lack of shiny new phone from the postman, he informed me gleefully. Then he helpfully transferred me to the telesales department so that I could reorder my phone.

This is when I got through to Matt. Matt was far more understanding about my cause and immediately ordered me a new phone, despite my raised voice and unfriendly Vodafone-related comments. I was put on hold while the system dealt with my order. An unbelievable thirty minutes later (and thirty minutes of ever increasing anger building up inside of me) he came back and apologised for the delay – apparently the entire computer system had crashed, but now we were back on track and the order had gone through. As for the mystery of the non-existent pay-as-you-go number? “Oh this is strange,” Matt murmured, “it seems as though the system deleted your number and your account all by itself.” Great. What a clever computer system. Matt added my number back and as I was still furious he went to speak to his manager about my situation. He came back and informed me that due to this terrible mix up, Vodafone would very generously pay the P&P for next day delivery and would credit my account with £20 there and then. “Right, I’ve just credited your account with £20,” Matt told me. I was slightly calmer as I thanked Matt and hung up.

Incredibly, my phone actually turned up the following day in perfect working order.

As for the £20 in my account? Two weeks later and not a penny. I feel personally let down – I trusted Matt. Looks like it’s time for another friendly chat with the Vodafone team.

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