Vodafone doesn’t want new customers

Vodafone – how hard can it be to become a customer of yours? So hard I almost gave up, that’s how hard.

It all started about a month ago — a month away from the end of my contract with O2, who didn’t have the phone I wanted. Vodafone does, so I planned to switch — in spite of the company’s current poor reputation for avoiding paying £6bn in corporation tax in the cash-strapped UK.

Around that time, I got a call from Vodafone’s ‘Win Back’ sales team — as a previous customer I’m cheaper to acquire than a brand new one, so they wanted to know if I would come back to Voda. I agreed to a deal, and expected to get a call nearer the time confirming this. Score one point for Vodafone.

But a week before the contract expired, I’d heard nothing so I called the sales number. They’d no record of the phone call or of the good deal (£10 a month cheaper than any advertised price plan) that I’d agreed to. Strike one point for Vodafone – score now zero.

So I tried to cut a deal there but I was told my name would be passed to the Win Back sales team’s list. Four days later I got a call — this from a company that’s reportedly keen to expand its customer base after a long period of decline. Strike one more point for lack of urgency – tally is minus one.

In the end, I got a deal slightly better than the one I’d agreed a month before (one up for Voda, score now zero). I carefully spelt out my address, bank account details and the porting code (PAC) that O2 had given me, to allow my old number to be carried over. The PAC would be activated two days later, I was told.

Next day I got a text confirming that a phone would be sent out the day after — though the abysmal spelling of my address suggested a high degree of illiteracy or lack of attention to detail, or both, and gave me cause to wonder if the phone would actually turn up at the right address. Hmm, nul points each way, I think, score still zero.

The phone turned up on the appointed day — so a grudging point there, score one — but two days later there was no sign of the PAC being activated, so I emailed Vodafone. They’d no record of a PAC. Minus one. They suggested I send it and other details to a specific Vodafone email address, which I did in a hurry, since at this point I’m paying for two parallel phone contracts, and the PAC has a 30-day expiry limit that’s approaching fast.

I got a email back instructing me to enter the same details into a web page — this would be the third time of providing the code. Subtract one point, score minus two so far. An email arrived within a few hours complaining that the details I’d provided didn’t match what they held — I suspect that’s because the address I’d originally given them had been transcribed so poorly. Score: minus three.

So I provided the details for the fourth time and now, at last, have confirmation, and a date and time that the PAC will be activated — one day before it expires. Add one point, and the total so far is minus two.

If the PAC works as Voda claims, no change in score as that’s expected behaviour. If it doesn’t, you’ll hear about it.

If Vodafone wants to gain customer loyalty, it really needs to sharpen up its act. As it is, if another company offers a reasonable deal at the end of this 18-month contract, I’m off.