(Yet) another rant about Vodafone

I don’t know where to start explaining how annoyed I am with Vodafone!

On Thursday my Android phone just suddenly died – I tried everything but nothing would make it come back to life again. So on Friday I looked at the Vodafone site. It took a while as the information was well hidden but I eventually found out that the phone was covered by a warranty and that as I had Vodafone’s Cover Me insurance I would get a courtesy phone too! I rang up and spoke to someone and he confirmed all of this and told me to take the phone into a Vodafone shop and they would sort it out for me. I felt quite pleased but experience told me it probably wouldn’t be as good as it seemed. In fact I put this on my Facebook status:

Have to say Vodafone surprised me today – turns out that according to the man I spoke to my phone is under warranty and my insurance will give me a courtesy phone while it’s being repaired. Now whether or not that is the reality when I go into the shop tomorrow remains to be seen!!

My expectation, having seen the subject to availability notice was that I would get to the shop to be told “sorry we don’t have any courtesy phones left” .Curiously it wasn’t the case although I think it would have been better if it had been. I took the phone in for repair and was given this phone:

Basically it’s a bog standard phone that allows me to make calls and send text messages and not much else. The man in the shop put my sim card into it and said “oh there’s no contacts on your sim card” Well duh! of course there aren’t my phone is an Android and they don’t work like that. I pointed out that if that was the phone they were giving me I would have no access to my contacts, diary or any of the other things I use my phone for. He suggested that I phone Customer Services.

So I did and this started a whole 3 hours of complete bollocks which ended up with the suggestion that they credit my account with £30 and I go round the second hand shops trying to find a second hand Android phone for that amount, pay for it myself and wait till next month to recover the money. The only thing that they were able to offer was money – I told them on several occasions that I’d rather have good service than money. Every person I spoke to said they could see my point of view but weren’t able to do anything about it!

At the end of the day Vodafone and other phone companies are selling products that go beyond a simple mobile phone. However that is all they are saying they offer when something goes wrong. Is it too much to ask that I be provided with a phone that works on the same operating system as the one I’ve been paying for for the last 18 months? I’ve paid something like £360 in insurance over the last 3 years and not claimed until now and this is the best they can offer – typical of insurance companies to take large premiums and pay out the absolute minimum.

It’s also the second phone in a row I’ve got by signing up to a 24 month contract only to find that the phone only lasts 18 months! I see from other comments on Facebook that I’m not alone in having this experience! I also can’t understand why Vodafone seem to spend so much time and effort trying to placate angry customers by offering to credit their accounts when they seem to spend so little time and effort keeping them happy in the first place. My contract ends in a few months and this time I fully intend to look around and see what is on offer from other companies before I decide on an upgrade from Vodafone – well done chaps I’ve been a customer for 10 years and you’ve pissed me off once too often!

So I tried to get to grips with the phone I was given. I’ve had smart phone for at least 7 or 8 years now and haven’t had to use the abc type input on a phone for at least 10 years so trying to get to grips with it was painfully slow – it took me 5 minutes to type the message “got a phone, of sorts” in a text message to Sarah and then I couldn’t bloody remember her number as I just use it stored in contacts! It was, however, my attempt to use the internet on it that was the final straw. It was slow, painfully slow and trying to do anything in a postage stamp sized screen drove me nuts.

So I went out to my shed and rummaged in my drawer. I found my old Qtek 9600 which I had when we went to Australia back in 2006. Even though the phone is probably 7 or 8 years old it still has more functionality on it than the one I was given as a “courtesy” phone. So the Samsung has gone back into the box where it will stay until I get to pick up my repaired phone. They said a week but I don’t intend to hold my breath!!


Kicking Against the Pricks

Now don’t get me wrong I love my Android phone – I won’t join the sheep and sell my soul to Apple for an iphone which does half of what my Android can do but costs twice as much. But……I had a problem. Eighteen months ago I signed up to a two year contract with my HTC magic phone and for most of that time I’ve been really really happy. Until a few months ago.

My HTC Magic had been running Android V1.6 and as such was a lovely little phone. Then suddenly, out of the blue, Vodafone released an upgrade for Magic users which took the phone up to the latest version which was 2.2 or Froyo as it was widely known. In retrospect this was a mistake which I will explain shortly but I think Vodafone had been under a lot of pressure to release the upgrade and for a long time it looked as if they were dragging their feet. However looking back they were actually being quite sensible. The problem would appear to be that the Magic just simply wasn’t powerful enough or had enough memory to run the new software.

Not that anyone at Vodafaone would actually admit that out loud but it did leave me with a problem. The phone became very sluggish and crashed every so often – usually when you really needed it to work. I use the phone as a camera a lot and when you have to wait 2 minutes for the camera function to start up it can be a bit embarrassing – especially when everyone else has taken the shot and you’re still standing there saying “Oh sorry can you just hang on a minute!” It also locked when phonecalls came in and meant I had to call people back. It was getting to the point where it was almost getting chucked with fustration!”

So a week ago I was walking past the Vodafone shop and saw the Sumsung Tablet as shown in the picture above) so I popped in to have a look. While I was standing there one of the assistants came over and asked if he could help. I explained that I was just looking and that I was tied to a 24 month contact that still had a while to run. He told me that I could upgrade 6 months early and when he checked the new date I could upgrade was 16th April. I made a note in my diary and took his name just in case! I also picked up a copy of the brochure so I could peruse the phones and decide which on to go for.

So after another frustrating day I e-mailed Vodafone to see if I could speed up the process and on the Tuesday I got a message which now said I could upgrade on the 4th April which was moving in the right direction. I decided to call them and see if I could push this further but their customer service department was awful. I don’t know where it’s based but none of the staff seem to have been taught how to empathise with customers, it’s all very deadpan and matter of fact. After arguing with the guy for a few minutes and trying to get across to him that simply repeating what he had just said doesn’t constitue explaining something he put me on hold to speak to technical services. While I was waiting the line went dead.

I decided to wait before calling back and while I waited I got a text saying my order had been dispatched!!!! What order!! So I phoned back and spoke to another deadpan individual who informed me that the technical people had said that the problem was most likely to be the sim card and they were sending me another one. I told him that I didn’t think that was the problem and hung up – shortly afterwards I got an e-mail in rather poor English telling me the same thing.

The card arrived on Thursday and as I had come to expect from Vodafone there was no instructions as to what I should do. So I called up and spoke to the same call centre who once again had no customer empathy and were less than helpful. I eventually got it out of them what I should do and hung up. A few minutes later I got an automated call asking me to rank the service I had just recieved so I gave them 2 out of 5 for service and gave them one for would I recommend Vodafone to a friend. A few minutes later a call back – I told him that I was driving and asked him to call back 10 minutes later which he did but I couldn’t answer the call because the bloody phone had locked up! Needless to say the sim card didn’t make any difference.

As far as I was concerned they had seriously pissed me off and this wasn’t over. Ideally what I would have liked to do was  ride out the contract and then move my business elsewhere but with a phone that the thought of having to wait 2 weeks to upgrade was not pleasing then the thought of waiting 6 months was a nightmare. I decided to go back to the shop on Saturday and try again only this time face to face. I wanted to look at phones anyway as I couldn’t make my mind up between the Nexus S and the Desire HD.

So on Saturday I went into the shop and was disappointed that the guy I’d spoken to the previous week wasn’t there. They were very busy and I had to wait a while. Then luckily for me the guy suddenly appeared and I told him my whole tale of woe. He was very apologetic about the service that I had received and suggested that I complain. Curiously some of the things he said were the exact opposite of what I’d been told online/phone. I said to him that it was like dealing with two different companies and that it appeared that the shops and online/phone parts of Vodafone were in competition with each other, and that they used that to play customers off.

At first he said that there was nothing he could do but as we talked he asked me if I would mind a new telephone number. I said that it wouldn’t be the end of the world so he made a suggestion. He said he would reduce my current price paln down to the bare minimum – £10 a month. Then he would give me the phone on a 24 month contract but would give me the first two months free (That’s a £60 refund to cover the cost of the 6 months at £10 a month). That sounded good to me – especially as the two contracts would run together for the first 6 months so that I would end up with the new 24 month contract starting in October when the current one finished effectively making it a 30 month contract. (I’d been told that this wouldn’t happen by the man on the phone but didn’t believe it for one second.)

So all I had to do was decide which of the two phones to go for! I eventually went for the Desire HD because the Nexus doesn’t have a memory card slot and although it had a massive 16GB of storage if anything happened to the phone I wouldn’t be able to retrieve the data. So the man went out the back to get me a phone and guess what – they’d run out!! So I have to wait till tomorrow to get my hands on it.

It just goes to show that if you kick hard enough against big corporations eventually you’ll get what you want!

Slave to the machine

Last night I was working at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole and had been booked into another hotel nearby. When the event finished one of the crew offered me a lift back to the hotel. Getting into his car he got his sat nav out of the glove compartment and said “I don’t know what I’d do without this” – a comment he would come to regret!

He punched in the postcode we had been given and off we went. The Sat Nav directed us to turn left onto the A45 and then onto the M42 before sending us onto the M6. At this point we became concerned that something was amiss! Anyway we ended up in Birmingham City Centre before it directed us back onto a road which headed back towards the NEC. After a while it announced that we had reached our destination just as we arrived at the road ahead closed sign – but there was still no sign of a hotel!

I got my phone out of my pocket and punched in the name of the hotel and it revealed we were now 7 miles from the hotel so we followed the directions and ended up at the Arden hotel which turned out to be next to the NEC and if we had turned right (instead of left) onto the A45 would have found it in minutes!

I can’t be too smug though as the reason I had accepted the lift was that when I punched in the details of the hotel and asked for walking directions my phone told me initially 2hrs and then 1hr and directed me in a circular route. However as I found out this morning the hotel was a 5 minute walk from Birmingham International which itself is only a 10 minute walk from the Metropole. So I could have walked there in 15 to 20 minutes instead of the half hour we spent doing a round trip via spaghetti junction!

Bring back maps!


I spent part of today working on various computers. I swapped some RAm around and managed to increase the RAM in both my Apple (now 1GB) and also my XP machine (just over 500 Mb). It was while I was doing this I got to thinking what we had connected to our network and it was quite eye opening! A few years ago we used to have one pc connected via a modem to the internet. However as more and more people wanted to use the computer it started to grow.

When I took stock today this is what we have on our network

2 laptops

4 machines running Windows Xp

1 Linux machine

1 Apple Mac

1 Linux server

2 printers

3 External hard drives

plus a mobile phone and a wii

I drew a plan!


Ironic thing is that apart from the two laptops which belong to our work places none of the other machines have cost us very much. I think at £30 the Apple is the most expensive (unless you count the Wii). We don’t need top of the range machines what we have is sufficient for what we need to do. In addition some of the stuff, like the laser printer and the network hub) has come from Freecycle/Freegle so cost us nothing at all!

I like that!

Google barcode

This was the image that was at the top of the Google page this morning – apparently today is the 57th anniversary of the barcode. I looked at it and I wondered……

…So I got my phone out, opened the barcode reader application and scanned the barcode from the screen and sure enough when the phone decoded it it had found plain text and that text read “Google” – very clever!