Its nice to get a little thank you from time to time from a company that you’ve been a customer of for a while. A little incentive to let you know they are happy that you’re happy.
Unless, of course, this incentive is from Vodafone, in which case you should, as my title suggests, hang the hell up, step away from the phone and not utter one word.
Elder, that most un-tech loving of modern males, has been so not interested by smartphones, contracts and anything other than chatting the arse end off a donkey with his mates for so long now that he has had the same number for 12 years at least. Possibly more, in fact, it’s been that long I don’t recall how long and don’t remember a time when he had another number. I’ve changed mine lots, all different networks, all sorts of phones, but to Elder, a phone is good so long as you can hear the person on the other end and they can hear you.
He does not text. He barely even goes online on the phone bar Instagram, and that’s only to brag about his records so he uses wifi indoors. He does not do hashtags of food he is eating, or his outfit of the day. If he could go without the need for me to phone him to ask what he wants for tea or for Mini to phone him outside Tiger to cuss him for saying it’s a bit girlie and shit, he wouldn’t bother with a phone at all.
He has, with that in mind, always been happy with Pay and Go. He knew where he was with it, he wouldn’t be on the phone to his old mate Ted for 4 hours and get hit with a stonking great bill, it would just cut off when his top up went.
However, with our Sky phone bill hitting £80 just for his calls, and my having a contract too, when he got cold called by Vodafone, who he has had the aforementioned same number with for all those years and offered a deal, he said yes.
Not without them having to twist his arm though.
First he was offered a text, calls and data bundle. He said no.
Then he was offered a text and call bundle. He said no.
He was asked why he wasn’t interested, and said, quite honestly, that to him, a phone was a phone, nothing more, he was only interested in calling, he cannot text (his eyesight is shite) and the data thing didn’t interest him.
The salesman said, as he had been with Vodafone practically since they were still Mercury, he could offer 600 minutes for £9.50 per month.
That sounded good to Elder, so he said yep, as long as he could keep his number, which they said he could.
He was sent the new improved chip and I was looking forward to not looking with horror at my Sky phone bill. Which I didn’t for the last three months as the phone line was left alone.
The bill was coming from Elder’s personal bank though, like mine does, and the first month he checked it was the quoted £9.50.
He didn’t check last months.
He did, however, check this months. And found it at a staggering £94.50.
All together, after looking at last months amount, the bill that was meant to be £19, was suddenly £120.05 over what it should have been.
I repeat, fecking hell!
Scratching his head, we went on live chat, thinking it must be a massive, huge mistake. One thing Elder had been promised was that, should the call time reach his 600 minutes, he would be cut off, just like his pay and go.
This, of course had not happened.
The chat person, Mahesh, was useless. He specified that we needed to look at PDFs for the bill which we were given access to when he signed up. But Elder had not been sent these log in details. He could not refer to a bill he had never seen.
We told Mahesh this but he said that as Elder had exceeded his minutes the bills stood.
He also said Elder had received texts from a phishing company whereby he was charged £9.50 last month. But I check Elder’s phone for texts as he finds the display too small and he had not received any dodgy texts from Oxygen8.
Oxygen8 are a well known scam, its all over the net from other phone companies, you don’t even necessarily receive a text, said Mahesh, they just randomly generate. However, that wasn’t their fault said Mahesh, you have to go to them for refunds.
This may be true for Vodafone customers, but EE and O2 don’t make their customers get their refund from a scam company. They just refund it. They have blocked this company from handsets. Vodafone only do so when you become aware of the scam.
He then quoted Elder had exceeded his 300 minutes allowance, and quoted that Elder received 300 minutes, 100 texts and 250mb of data.
Not so. We referred back to our original call which whilst it did at first get offered Elder said no and it was changed to 600 minutes only.
Knowing that Elder had arranged this over the phone from one of their cold callers, Mahesh quite slyly said that we should take written proof to our local store. We didn’t have this as a contract never arrived, we had no idea we needed one as it was a rolling contract.
Mahesh did not take kindly to my taking over the chat and I quoted distance selling laws and the Ombudsman. He passed me over to cancellations.
So, Vodafone will cold call, get you to agree terms with them, tie you in, lie and then when things go wrong, they don’t want you any more if you know your rights.
I was put on with someone else- Candace, who read back what I had written and what Elder had written. And promptly passed me back to Mahesh.
He then passed me to “Luke”. Who never even responded, just dropped the chat.
Elder then phoned 191 on his mobile, and was told all sorts of rot, he was then put on to someone called Joyce, who understood why he was so cross, and after Elder repeated what their phone line said- that all calls are recorded- told her to go listen to his original call.
He also spotted that no calls had been stopped as promised. He had never gone over 600 minutes. And if the data was included all of a sudden, why had I seen texts sent to him saying it was only a trial?
With all that info, she immediately offered a full refund of the £120.05 and admitted liability. She promised to get it sorted out that day and phone him back. She also promised they’d honor the 600 minutes as he had been treated so badly.
Mis-selling is no joke, it is frowned on by the Ombudsman and there are laws to protect the consumer. So, we felt that Joyce would get it sorted and the cash would return shortly.
Except she dropped called after one ring and then we never heard back again. No surprise, no cash was in his bank either.
He rang again today and spoke to the first person politely, as he always does. They put him on hold twice. After the second time, an hour had passed and he spoke to someone in their Resolutions department. She denied anyone called Joyce worked in her department.
She was incredibly robotic and said there was a record of his call from yesterday but not that he was due a refund. She was adamant that Elder was at fault and no money would be returned.
Again, he was placed on hold. She came back and offered half and again said Elder was at fault and denied the 600 minutes offer.
He really told her what for, that he knew his rights in the UK with consumer law, he was owed a refund due to mis-selling.
He asked to speak to Joyce or for the new person to go find the call. She first said, repeatedly, she could not do that, that it would take 4 working days to go and listen to the call and then they’d get back to him. Rightly, Elder called bullshit on this.
Eventually, after over two hours, they agreed to pay it back but even that will take several days.
I’m not even confident that he will receive the money after this call. And you can’t blame me.
Vodafone clearly do not care about their customers, long term or otherwise.
In a time when people shop around more and more to get the best deal, long term customers’ like Elder should be due some respect, but it seems not with this company.
Not only are they aware that their cold callers- who specifically target long term users- are happy to lie to gain a commission- they also know that customers are being ripped off by a text message scam and are doing nothing to stop it like their competitors unless you ask them to. But the only way you know you’ve been scammed is when you query your bill.
Their staff are rude, they do not care if you are ripped off, they will not honor what you are tied to, and, unless you stop paying them, at which point they expect immediate payment, they wont pay you back when they’ve taken far too much.
Two hours, most of this on hold, is disgraceful. They knew they were in the wrong, they knew that the call had been recorded, but they tried every trick to fob Elder off and give him a cursory amount back.
I shall be offering Vodafone the opportunity to reply to this post, and I hope they do.
I have also alerted the Ombudsman of their shoddy and dishonest practices, and I would hope that other’s do too.
Have you been scammed by Vodafone? Maybe Oxygen8 took money from you that Vodafone wont pay back? Let me know in the comments.