12 Jun 2006 dwmw2   » (Master)

Apologies to David Wilson; I just can't help myself. I have to share this latest tale of telco incompetence. If you don't like my complaining, feel free not to read it.

Vodafone UK definitely take the prize for the most incompetent telco I've ever had the misfortune to encounter.

I've been trying to get some sense out of them regarding an account which they failed to cancel when they were asked to. Even after I cancelled the Direct Debit, they employed a debt collection agency to harass me for the line rental from after I told them to close the account.

After receiving threatening snail mail from their debt collectors, I replied to the last email I'd received from Vodafone, preserving their ticket number in the Subject header and their Message-Id in my References header.

I was somewhat surprised to receive a message asking my for my personal details. After all, we had already been engaged in a conversation, and they definitely seemed to know who I was when they were talking to me before. Yet this is what I received:

Thank you for your email dated 31/05/06
In order for us to respond to your query, please provide us with the following information:-
-Your account number
-Your address including postcode
-Your date of birth.
If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards,
Lesley Stevens
Vodafone Customer Services
I responded to this slightly confusing mail...
Don't send HTML mail.
I'm assuming this is either a fully automated reply or just someone not actually bothering to think -- I'm replying to an existing 'ticket' and you have my email address on file anyway.
I believe the account number may be 28632641, or that might just be the account number at Wescot Credit Services, whom you have engaged to harass me for this invalid 'debt'.
You will need to contact me again if my assumption is incorrect and you really _are_ incapable of working out who I am despite the fact that I'm continuing an existing thread of discussion, as evidenced by the ticket number in the Subject: header and the unique Message-Ids given in my References: and In-Reply-To: headers.

A few days later, I realised that their ticketing system had screwed up and assigned a new ticket number rather than continuing to use the old one. So I replied again, telling them the old ticket number so that they could connect the history.

Unfortunately, Vodafone's Lesley Stevens didn't seem even to be capable of reading the mail which was in front of her -- the response was another identical mail from her, asking for the same information which they already had. Again, I responded as politely as I could manage...

For crying out loud.
PLEASE STOP SENDING PRECISELY THE SAME EMAIL OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
You _KNOW_ who I am, or at least you did know when we were discussing ticket #1555663. If that _isn't_ the case, send me a coherent, non-HTML email explaining how it is that you've lost this information from an open ticket.
Do not just send the same automatic response over and over again.
Unfortunately, they still seemed to be somewhat hard of understanding...
Dear Sir/Madam,
Thank you for contacting Vodafone Customer Service regarding your query.
In order for us to locate your account and check our records please reply to this email with the following information:
-Password
-Your mobile number
-Payment method
-Your address including postcode
-Your date of birth
-Description of your query
If there is anything else we can help you with, please feel free to contact us.
Kind regards,
Nilesh Pailwan
Vodafone Customer Services
I tried again, since they still didn't seem to be actually paying any attention. It seemed like they were just pressing an "ask for details" button instead of paying any attention at all to the email in front of them...
I'm not sure I believe I'm seeing this. You've _repeatedly_ been told
not to post HTML, and that you should _have_ all my details on file
already from ticket #1555663.
The mobile number on the account in question was 07796 177782. The rest of my 'query' is in my previous mails. What is _wrong_ with you people?
I don't recall the password -- this was an account which was closed a long time ago, and was unused for some time before that. The account was paid by direct debit until it was closed, and then the direct debit was cancelled. You continued to attempt to take money, and then employed a debt collector to pursue me for line rental for the period _after_ I asked you to close the account. The account number with Wescot Credit Services is 28632641
My date of birth, not that you should need it, is ...... My address at the time this account was active was ........
Please pass this to a supervisor or _someone_ who can think for themselves immediately -- PLEASE don't just send me another one of these silly mails.
You _HAVE_ all my details. You _KNOW_ who I am and you've already been discussing my account with me. In ticket #1555663.
This did, finally provide a response. Not a useful response, but a response other than just asking stupid questions....
Dear Mr. Woodhouse,
Thank you for contacting Vodafone Customer Service regarding your contract.
Thanks for your information.
I can see that your account was cancelled on 22nd January 2006 due to non-payment.
Also, there is no request to cancel your contract before this date. In order to settle your account, please make a payment of £58.34.
You can send your cheque to the following address: .....
But I'd already been through this with them before. This muppet blatantly wasn't reading the notes either. I'd asked them in July of last year to cancel the account, and I'd stopped payment for it a month later; in August. If they chose not to cancel the account until January, that is entirely their problem; they are not going to get paid for it. I responded again...

On Fri, 2006-06-09 at 11:10 +0000, Webform wrote:
> Thanks for your information.
At last, we have moved on from that particular broken record.
> I can see that your account was cancelled on 22nd January 2006 due to > non-payment. > > Also, there is no request to cancel your contract before this date. > In order to settle your account, please make a payment of £58.34.
Unfortunately, we've moved on to another.
You _were_ told, in 2005, to cancel this account. You were then told, on the day that I cancelled the direct debit a month or so later, that I had done so.
You will _not_ be paid for the extra line rental covering the time between my cancellation of the direct debit, and your eventual cancellation of the account.
I'm attaching my message of 31st May, since you blatantly don't seem to have read it.
PLEASE PASS THIS TO MANAGEMENT IMMEDIATELY. I DO NOT WANT TO GO ROUND IN CIRCLES ANY MORE.
No prizes for guessing their response to this mail...
Dear Sir
Thanks for contacting us.

We'd love to help with your query, please provide us with the following information:-

-Your account number
-Your mobile number
-Your address including postcode
-Your date of birth.

Once we've received this, we'll be more than happy to help

At this point, I'm beginning to despair. They really do all seem to have been lobotimised. I tried a different tack -- combat their amnesia by writing it all down for them at http://david.woodhou.se/vodafone.html. I sent another mail....
On Fri, 2006-06-09 at 12:14 +0000, Webform wrote:
> We'd love to help with your query, please provide us with the
> following information:-
I am now utterly bemused by your lack of competence. Since you seem incapable of conducting a conversation without constantly forgetting who it is that you're talking to, and since you seem incapable of actually responding to what is said rather than repeating yourselves, I have put all the relevant information into a web page to assist you. That web page is at http://david.woodhou.se/vodafone.html
Please get someone in management to deal with this; I am tired of dealing with first-level support droids who seem to have been lobotomised. I'm sorry to be insulting, but quite frankly, I think I'm being rather restrained under the circumstances.
When I received no reply to that, I sent another, quoting the previous mail (with the URL), and adding...
I still await a response to this. Since you seem incapable of dealing
with email, you may telephone me on +44 XXXX XXXXXX.
Do not let a first-line support person contact me and waste my time any further. Please get someone who can actually think for themselves to respond. I _will_ be taking legal action if you don't stop harassing me for a debt which is invalid.
The response was as predictable as ever...
Dear Mr Woodhouse,
Thank you for your email dated 12/06/2006
In order for us to respond to your query, please provide us with the following information:-
-Your account number
-Your address including postcode
-Your date of birth.
If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards,
Jennifer Jones
Vodafone Customer Services

At this point, I just can't take Vodafone seriously at all. There's voices in my head telling me to just turn up at their headquarters and firebomb the place. After all, even if I walked into reception and introduced myself before doing it, they wouldn't have sufficient wit to tell the police who I am...

Is it wrong of me to expect better than this from customer service departments, even from telcos?

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