New year be­gins with lit­tle cheer for these con­sumers

In­ter­net is­sues with Voda­fone, con­fu­sion over Dunnes’ re­turns pol­icy on pric­ing, wait­ing more than a year for Lit­tle­woods to col­lect un­wanted item and Ugg boots go miss­ing at Par­cel Mo­tel

The Irish Times - - Life - ConorPope Con­sumer Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

Voda­fone ‘Bizarre carry-on’ after dis­con­nec­tion

Anew year and a new raft of prob­lems from read­ers.

First up is Marie Cor­co­ran who got in touch “plead­ing for help be­fore I’m taken away by the men in the white coats”.

Voda­fone were the cause of her con­ster­na­tion.

She has had home broad­band, home phone and two mo­biles with the provider for years and ev­ery­thing is paid for by di­rect debit, so there were never any ac­counts is­sues.

“The bizarre carry-on started on De­cem­ber 13th when, in­ex­pli­ca­bly, my in­ter­net was dis­con­nected,” her mail starts.

She rang Voda­fone “and spent years of my life on hold on a prac­ti­cally daily ba­sis get­ting as­sur­ances that I’d be ‘just put on hold for two min­utes’.

The av­er­age hold was 39 min­utes and one was 79 min­utes.”

When she told them she was “los­ing the will to live” they would un­der­take to phone her back. Did they? No.

Even­tu­ally a team leader told me I’d moved house to Bun­crana. I’ve lived in Clon­mel all my life and have never been to Bun­crana which I’m sure is grand but I don’t live there,” Marie says.

‘An­guish and sad­ness’

Fast for­ward sev­eral days and Voda­fone fi­nally ac­cepted they had made an er­ror and said they were “set­ting up an in­ves­ti­ga­tion” as to how this hap­pened. “Tri­bunals on plan­ning cor­rup­tion have been con­cluded quicker,” Marie says.

She says she “re­spect­fully” sug­gested they re­store her con­nec­tion first “and then in­ves­ti­gate to their hearts con­tent.”

“A team leader un­der­took to fix it all and get me back and run­ning be­fore I’d know it. This was around De­cem­ber 21st.”

The very same day she re­ceived a “do not re­ply” mail from Voda­fone “ex­press­ing their an­guish and sad­ness I had can­celled my ser­vice. I hadn’t ob­vi­ously .”

She con­tacted the com­pany and they agreed this cor­re­spon­dence re­quired an­other in­ves­ti­ga­tion but said not to worry it would be all sorted.

It re­ally wasn’t.

On De­cem­ber 23rd, she was told the re­con­nec­tions team lo­cated in Egypt were on the case. After that there was si­lence.

So Mari con­tacted Sky to switch provider. “A box was posted to me in jig time and an en­gi­neer was sched­uled to in­stall to­mor­row – happy days and bye Voda­fone.”

But no. She then got a call from Sky in early Jan­uary to say Voda­fone had a “hold or block” on the land­line and they can’t do switch.

“I need to con­tact Voda­fone to es­tab­lish why and what’s go­ing on . . . I cry down to phone to the man. He makes sooth­ing noises but can’t help. I step into hell again and call Voda­fone tell them the name of my mother’s first doll and am asked ‘how they can help me to­day?’

“I plead with them semi-hys­ter­i­cally to read the record. A staff mem­ber sees there have been is­sues but he needs to put me on hold for ‘two min­utes’. I beg him not to. After hold­ing for six min­utes he comes back and says he has to in­ves­ti­gate it and will ring me back.

“He asks me what is my phone num­ber and can he do any­thing else for me to­day? Short of call­ing an am­bu­lance I tell him just to please free what­ever hold they are main­tain­ing and re­lease me from this night­mare.”

She says that while she had tried to set out her tale of woe “with­out too much drama” it is very se­ri­ous. “I work from home, I’ve lost a sig­nif­i­cant in­come be­cause I have no wifi and I’m re­ally go­ing in­sane. Can you please please sug­gest what I can do? I’m so upset and fed up and frus­trated by this – it’s a night­mare.”

‘Worse and worse’

We con­tacted Voda­fone al­most im­me­di­ately after we got this mail but be­fore we had heard any­thing back we got an­other mail from Marie.

“This just gets worse and worse,” it started. “I phoned Voda­fone again. I’m told that a new cus­tomer ac­count num­ber was al­lo­cated to me on De­cem­ber 21st to pro­vide me with a new ser­vice as a new cus­tomer. How­ever, no one both­ered to ar­range any con­nec­tion in spite of daily as­sur­ances to the con­trary.

“I’m now told that be­cause I’m a ‘new cus­tomer’ , it will take at least seven days for a Voda­fone en­gi­neer to come to ‘in­stall’ the con­nec­tion in spite of the fact that I’m sit­ing here in my home of­fice look­ing at Voda­fone mo­dem.

“An agent sug­gested mean­while I should take my­self off to a Voda­fone shop and buy a don­gle and that Voda­fone would give me my money back on my next bill.”

Marie went on that “with­out laugh­ing hys­ter­i­cally I asked why on earth he would think it rea­son­able for me to have con­fi­dence in that pro­posal in light of my ex­pe­ri­ence. He replied that ‘the call was recorded and I could ac­cess it though Data Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner any­time’. Right so!”

Marie asked if he could con­firm in writ­ing any or all of this un­der­tak­ing and he replied that “you know I can’t. You know the limit of my au­thor­ity and you know I can’t, but why would I give you false in­for­ma­tion?”

“Why in­deed? To crown it all in the mid­dle of this morass Voda­fone gave me some free data to use as a per­sonal hotspot and now that’s run out so I’m li­able to any data in ex­cess of my ex­ist­ing pack­age. Not one per­son can tell me who has blocked me from leav­ing Voda­fone and us­ing a dif­fer­ent sup­plier. It’s mad mad mad.” It cer­tainly is.

Three days later we got an­other mail. “I’m al­most afraid to say it but I think thanks to your in­ter­ven­tion a res­o­lu­tion as in a re­con­nec­tion may be on the hori­zon”, al­though she said she feared that re­con­nec­tion was not likely to hap­pen for some­time.

We con­tacted Voda­fone who told us Maria’s broad­band was cut by mis­take.

“We are cur­rently in the last phase of roll­out of our new IT & Busi­ness trans­for­ma­tion and while we are work­ing ex­tremely hard to mit­i­gate any pos­si­ble dis­rup­tion, on this oc­ca­sion this cus­tomer’s ac­count was dis­con­nected in er­ror,” a spokes­woman said.

“We have con­tacted Ms Cor­co­ran to apol­o­gise for any dis­tress and the in­con­ve­nience caused and have re­solved this mat­ter to her sat­is­fac­tion.”

‘‘ [Marie] spent years of my life on hold on a prac­ti­cally daily ba­sis get­ting as­sur­ances that I’d be ‘just put on hold for two min­utes’

PHO­TO­GRAPH: REUTERS

Reader says she has had home broad­band, home phone and two mo­biles with Voda­fone for years and ev­ery­thing is paid for by di­rect debit, so there were never any ac­counts is­sues.

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