This letter is a little on the long side but is well worth the time it takes to read for the brilliant ending. It was written by a Mr. Jenkins. I haven’t been able to track him down so, if you know Mr. Jenkins, tell him to get in touch with DCR so we can pat him on the back.
Mr Nick Read
21st February 2008
I am writing to you today as I am a Vodafone customer who is completely at the end of his tether.
I need your help Nick.
I’ve started dreaming about you. I wonder what you look like; I wonder if you really are the savior of Vodafone. I want you to be Nick, but then I check my inclusive minutes and I realize you are not. I check my voicemail to see if Vodafone Business Relations have called me back but they haven’t Nick. They haven’t called me. It’s all been a dream and I want to die.
I loath writing Nick, it real gets to me, but on this occasion I have to. I have to write to you because the alternative is committing suicide, a suicide which you would be reading about in next month’s Mobile News magazine.
My suicide note would burn onto your mind’s retina like an overheated Nokia 6120, the words would jump from the page and into your soul, all constructed via T9 predictive text, and you wouldn’t be able to erase me Nick, the message would be there for good, in your cerebellum’s inbox.
You see, for 5 months now Nick, I have been in a communicational conundrum, a sort of Newbury Hell.
5 months ago, I ordered 15 phone lines for my business. I already had 5 lines with you as I had been with Vodafone for as long as I can remember. I was a customer with you when Chris Gent walked through those pearly Banbury doors, all smartly dressed with nothing but hope in his heart and an Ericsson T29 in his pocket. Times were great then Nick, you even managed to send my bill on time. I loved those days.
Anyway, I digress.
I wanted a Sharer Plan; I needed on average 3000 minutes per user, so for 15 users I needed 45,000 minutes. I also needed them on 12 month commitments and free calls to 0870 numbers.
I was promised all this Nick, the world was my oyster. Vodafone was my Morrissey and I was a young Russell Brand, all gushing with enthusiasm and gusto, but with sexual tension replaced with 500 texts free every month.
We were flirting Nick, Vodafone and I were courting and there was nothing the world could do about it. You wanted longer commitment, but I couldn’t give it, you said 24 months, I said no, give me time, lets take it slow, lets not rush into this, I want to give you my heart but I’m unsure how Google Maps works on the Nokia N95.
We agreed on 12 months contracts.
Next up was the plan, now I’m no Shakespeare Nick, but I would proclaim to have a certain grasp on the English language, so when I uttered the words, “I do not want 3000 minutes fixed per phone; I want the whole 45,000 minutes to be shared between the 15 users”, I stupidly assumed that Vodafone would understand this, but in hindsight, I now see that this was all too much for Hayleigh Hegar and Jenna Bird to comprehend.
I mean, they barely could grasp the concept of phoning people back, and as for e mail, well; this alien concept was lost on these two. I often sat back in my genuine simulated leather office chair and wonder if I was actually calling Vodafone, or was I being rerouted by some fickle finger of destiny through to a parallel universe, where anything you ask or request engenders the respondent to lie and say the complete opposite of what is actually going to happen, a sort of Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, without the tea pots.
You see Nick, after the first month’s bill arrived, I couldn’t wait to open it. The morning it turned up I was like a little boy at Christmas, all exited and red faced. My wife even commented that my cheeks looked like the little Vodafone logo, you know, the one which look like a speech bubble. The irony only added to the moment Nick, it was heaven.
There it was, in a white cardboard box. It looked like a well organized letter bomb. I couldn’t hold it any longer. I wanted to see my savings, I wanted to open that letter bomb Nick and I wanted the savings to jump out of the page and blow up in my face like corporate Anthrax. I ripped the highly emissive carbon paper and there it was Nick, there it was…
I was overcharged £500 because I wasn’t on a sharer plan.
My heart sunk. I retreated to my simulated leather chair Nick and I began panicking. I began panicking Nick because I thought, God, if Hayleigh Hegar and Jenna Bird have got this wrong, then there’s no hope. We are all doomed. Vodafone is going to become a massive corporate tennis ball, bouncing around the globalised courts of all 5 continents, stealing money from the pockets of honest paying punters while returning that money to the greedy shareholding ball boys and girls. I was livid Nick, and I don’t even like Tennis.
I immediately contacted my Vodafone team. Team 26, such a bold sounding group, it conjured up images of robotic men in black suits huddled around a control station, manfully directing proceedings like a mini FBI, but this wasn’t the FBI Nick, this was Vodafone’s Customer Service; a group of young bucks floating through life, unable to decide if they should find a real job, synchronize their Blackberry, or face the relentless realization that they have become a number within a number.
That number was 26.
Imagine growing up, and all the fervor and energy of a young child, all enthusiast and eager to learn. Think back Nick, think back to when you were a small child and your ambition was bursting out of you. Then fast forward 15 years. Imagine being part of a team called Team 26.
It would make you want to stick pineapples in your eyes.
I spoke with Hayley Hegar to raise my concerns, after some verbal altercations, I was escalated to a woman called Jenna Bird. I love the word ‘escalated’. Your organization uses it so sporadically you feel you are being lifted from you feet and elevated to a different stratosphere.
In the space of 4 months, I have been escalated to no more that 7 people. I don’t think it gets much higher than this Nick, I’m walking on the moon, I’m walking on sunshine, I’m free as a bird Nick, I’m singing in the rain.
No, wait a minute, I’m not, and I’m actually walking on broken glass. I’m walking on broken glass Nick and there are shards of glass covering my bloody feet. I’m walking in sheer pain and I’m heading your way Nick. I’m heading your way and I have shards of glass and in my soles and they feel like 1,000,000 prepay simcards with no talk time.
Jenna Bird took 2 months to tell me everything I knew already. 2 months had gone on, and more money had been extracted manfully from my bank account.
Then, like the parting of the red sea, a miracle arrived in January, like a time delayed Christmas present from Jesus Christ. The marvelous, reclusive, evasive and sprightly Jenna Bird arranged a £2000 credit on my account. I nearly s**t myself with surprise.
A breakthrough I thought. A breakthrough of such magnificent proportions it felt like I had won the lottery. Or had I?
I checked my ticket, yes, I had the first 5 numbers Nick, and it was looking good. Lancelot spun round like a spin dryer in a hedge fund, I waited Nick, I waited for the confirmation, all I needed was the number 1 Nick, here it comes Nick, here it comes.
I couldn’t believe it. Jenna Bird had escalated me to a man called Paul Bolton, and this is where it gets interesting Nick. My lottery win had all been a mirage. Smoke and mirrors awaited.
This is the exact timeline of events. Bearing in mind I had at this point been waiting 16 weeks for this to be resolved:
Jenna Bird escalated this on the 5th January to Paul Bolton. She arranged for a £2000 credit on my account to cover the January bill.
Paul Bolton was meant to call me by the 9th January. He didn’t.
I called Vodafone on Monday 12th and was told he would call me that week. He didn’t.
I eventually got hold of him on the 21st January. He apologized and said he would resolve my queries this week. He said he would phone me everyday to give me an update. He didn’t.
I phoned Monday 26th January, and was told that he had been in an accident, and wouldn’t be in work that week.
I was then escalated to a woman called Kim. She apologized and said that she would be dealing with this, but would need some time as she did not know anything about the case. I spent an hour on the phone to her explaining everything again. She told me she would resolve this and come back to me by the end of the week.
Guess what Nick, she didn’t.
I called again on February 2nd. She apologized again and told me that they didn’t do a sharer plan anywhere near what had been offered, but she might be able to pull off something special. She told me someone would be calling me later that day.
I phoned her again on the 3rd February and again she apologized. Later that day a young lady from Vodafone sales called me, and wait for this Nick, she called me to offer me a standard sharer tariff of 48,000 minutes for £2300 a month.
After speaking to Hayleigh Hegar, Jenna Bird, Paul Bolton and Kim, and when they all knew my problem was the fact that I was promised 45,000 minutes for £990 per month, I then have to suffer the indignation of somebody calling me back and offering me the standard sharer plan which is on your website and has been there since I began this whole affair.
What a joke.
I immediately called Kim back, who immediately appeared on the defensive. She said she would look into this and come back to me.
She didn’t come back to me Nick.
I then phoned her on the 13th February. She said she would escalate the call to her manager, Yvonne Dunbar. Kim said the turnaround to be called back by a manager was 48 hours.
Yvonne didn’t call me. When I did ring and get to speak to her 1 week later, she told me that she had been, and I quote:
“In meetings and whatever”
I explained to her the whole situation. She said she would escalate the call to her manager, Shelaigh Coogan who would phone me back that day.
Shelaigh didn’t phone back. At this point I gave up.
So far, over 5 the months, you have overcharged me approximately £3500, my contracts are still 24 months and not 12 months, I’m still getting charged for 0870 numbers, and I am still nowhere near being on the sharer plan I was told I would be on. As I write this letter, my staff are making calls on the phones and are incurring charges we should not be.
I have written this letter out of sheer frustration Nick, and I have prepared a county court summons for the remaining line rental commitment, which total £18,674.
I will also be circulating this letter around the popular press, including all major UK television channels.
Nick, I remember you once saying that “to win in the marketplace you needed to create a brand that customers feel an emotional connection with; that employees want to do their best work for; and that is widely recognised as a leader for the quality of its products and services and the contribution it makes to society”.
You went on to say that you look at everything that passes your desk through several lenses: how it affects our customers and our employees, what the financial implications are. And importantly, you say that you use a corporate responsibility lens to decide if this would protect and build Vodafone’s reputation.
May I suggest you change your lenses Nick, I think the ones you have on are f**ked.