Posted by: glennandert | 5-August-2008

Vodafone customer service is BAD, real BAD

Vodafone customer service is … well … what’s the opposite of world class? Here is my story.

Bought a world class phone (used but in mint condition), that works only on a GSM cellular network. So, I needed to port my number from New Zealand Telecom to New Zealand Vodafone so I could use my new phone.

On Friday 25-July at about 4pm I went to the Vodafone store on Manners Mall in Wellington to do the deal. There appeared to be some confusion on their part as one agent would ask other agents how to about doing a pre-pay number port. Eventually I succeeded, purchasing a pre-pay SIM card, and requesting that they port over my Telecom mobile number. I was told to put the new SIM card in my phone and call 777 to activate it. And the number would be ported by 930 am Monday 28-July.

When I got home, I called 777 from the new phone with the new SIM. I was greeted by the rather rude recorded message “You are not a valid Vodafone pre-pay customer” and it hangs up. Now it’s after 5 and the store is closed.

The new phone is not working Monday morning. I called the store, talked to the “boss” and was told it would be ready before lunch and that he would call me. He did not. I called again, and was assured it would be done before end of day.

I went back Tuesday morning. The “boss” was now working at another store. So I was helped by another guy. I’ve lost the details now. But over several days I invested a good two hours standing in the store while I waited for the message that it was stuck in IT and would be done soon.

Then I travelled to Wanganui for the rest of the week. While there, I tried the Wanganui store. They called the Wellington store and was informed again that it was stuck but should be fixed soon.

I returned to Wellington in time to visit the store on Monday 4-Aug, more than a week after purchasing the SIM card. After more time in the store, I was informed that the SIM card was in the PreActivated state and they didn’t know what to do about it. They were again told by IT that it was stuck and to just keep waiting. After repeated requests to talk to a supervisor, I was given a phone number for IBM (who does the porting for Vodafone?). It did not work.

I returned home, and called the mobile support number from Vodafone’s web page. I was quickly helped by a very nice lady. But, my phone number is not in the computer, so they cannot help me. I informed her that this is exactly why I was calling, and gave her the details. Eventually I convinced her to ask her supervisor. She returned to tell me that her supervisor said they cannot help me. No, I cannot talk to her supervisor. It is against Vodafone policy to do live escalation on the support line. I was told to file a complaint using the page on the Vodafone web site. Over and over I asked to talk to her supervisor, and was told no. I felt like screaming. But rather than crucify what appeared to be an innocent cog in a square wheel, I just hung up.

Vodafone, why are you paying all these people to ruin your business?

OK, so I tried to find the complaint page on Vodafone’s web site. I could not find a link to such a page. Finally I Google’d it and found the page. No email address there. But there is a different number to call. I called it and was informed that “this number is overloaded, please call back later”. Gee, I wonder why it’s overloaded.

Here is another irony: Vodafone runs a paid ad (with Google AdWords) advertising their complaints page. Hello, why don’t you fix your company instead of advertising your complaints page? And, duh, doesn’t this just highlight the uselessness of your own website, when you have to run an ad so that people can find your complaints page?

On Tuesday, a friend of mine suggested that I try the “real” Vodafone store on Lampton Quay, instead of the franchise store on Manners Mall (where I bought the SIM card). That was a good move. The guy there actually knew what he was doing. He was not thrilled about spending his time to clean up a mess made by another store, but he put his shoulder to it anyway. Immediately he determined that the Manners Mall store had not properly activated the SIM card. He fixed that. This must be done before the number is ported. Because it was not, the port did now have a problem that he could not fix. He made another call. There are apparently plenty of other numbers also stuck in the porting process. Apparently all the ports that were started on 24-July had been fixed today. So, I might be lucky and mine might be fixed tomorrow (since my port was started on 25-July).

I told him of my inability to file a complaint. He gave me his business card and said to write him an email, and he promised to make sure that it got to the desks of the people inside the Vodafone company that needed to hear this.

My conclusions, so far:

The customer service at the Manners Mall store really is pathetic. I’m sure these guys are trying to do their best. But here are some of the problems: They don’t know how to do their job. The SIM was not activated. And they did not know how to activate it after the port got stuck in the PreActivated state. There is never a smile. One does not feel like a paying customer, but instead more like a sheep awaiting a good shearing. In fact, half the guys behave like they’ve been abused by their managers and/or customers.

There is clearly little or no competition among telco companies here. If there was any competition, this company would be out of business.

Hopefully the number is ported before the technology I just purchased is obsolete.

[Late breaking news: My port finished – yeah!]



  1. Yeah, they suck alright.

    If I was you I would be seeking a credit, and when thats not forthcoming go to the TDR after the required 6 weeks. It appears they will be publishing stats on complaints and stuff so the worse we all make vodafone look (with valid complaints) then the sooner someone from head office in the UK might fire some people here…

  2. Heh, over the last few days I’ve had a similar experience. Same store, same failure to act within promised timeframe, same inability to activate my SIM, same infuriating call centre nonsense. Two points of difference, however: first, this kicked off on Thursday for me and I was given a “sometime on Friday” estimate, so it’s ‘only’ four days late. Second, when the guy from the Manners Mall store called up today to schedule the port he made sure to check that I’d activated my SIM. Mind you he didn’t tell me that when he sold it to me last week. 😀

    My number is supposed to flick over in the morning. Fingers crossed.

  3. I got my brand spanking new phone from Vodafone yesterday. Signed my life away for the next 24 months with the promise of being able to take my 027 number over with me!

    The salesman from Lower Hutt Queensgate store promised my number would be ported over, and fully active within 3 hours!

    32 hours later I’m still waiting….
    I have been told there is some problems with Telecom and their web services (?) and this is causing the hold up.

    After reading this, I don’t hold much hope for tomorrow!

  4. Vodafone blaming Telecom web services: One competitor with crap customer service blaming the other competitor for their crap software. This has me rolling on the floor with laughter.

    I’m tempted to take out my pen and start writing about what Vodafone should be doing, from a customer service perspective. But I won’t. I’m worried my pen will run out of ink. 🙂

  5. Took another hour of waiting around in the Manners Mall store and another day of waiting for the number to switch across, but it happened in the end.

    So much nonsense getting this to go through. Ridiculous. The retail guy blamed the number portability people; they blamed him. (Do I care? No, just sort it out!) I asked for some free prepay credit to make up for my Vodafone experience thus far being terrible — want to take a stab at what he said? “Probably not, because THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.” Unbelievable. I pressed him and he said he’d ask his manager and get back to me when he called with a new switch time.

    Of course, he never called me. I was about to march down to the store yesterday and yell at some people when I received the “You’re now connected, it’s great to have you”. Yeah, whatever.

    (On the bright side, I get great HDSPA coverage at home and at work, Nokia Maps is awesome and Gmail in IMAP IDLE mode basically works like push email. So at least the actual phone service is decent!)

  6. this is the email i sent to vodafone on the 23rd of july. i’m still awaiting a response….

    I have recently joined one of your home phone and broadband plans and have a number of concerns re your service. The initial phone sign-up service was great – a direct dial 0800 number through to an operator – around a 30 second wait. Everything seemed to run smoothly.

    The next day I was phoned to say there was a problem with my drivers licence, which was rectified by my faxing a copy of the licence through to one of your representatives. However, I received a letter the next day explaining that my application was stalled due to issues with the aforementioned licence. I phoned the number in the letter to try and explain that it had been sorted the day before, however I was told by an automated message service that there would be a 40 minute delay. I decided it wasn’t worth the wait.

    Now today (22/7) I receive a text saying that my broadband service is active, however I’ve forgotten my password. No problems I think – I’ll just call Vodafone and get them to refresh my memory. Here I hit a snag – no phone numbers for Vodafone other than 0800800021 are listed in the phone book. So I call this number in an attempt to be put through to the right people – after 10 minutes or so I decide the best way to get hold of someone at Vodafone is to call the sign-up number, as I know that someone will answer. No surprises there – a response within 30 seconds. I’m told that they don’t store the password details and that they’ll have to put me through to the support team. Not a problem I think, although that was 70 minutes and 49 seconds ago (and counting) and I’m still hearing, “We’re sorry to keep you waiting, please hold the line and one of our representatives will be with you as soon as possible”. I give up.

    Frankly, I’m quite disgusted that your sign-up service is so well staffed to hook in new customers, yet when you’ve signed them up, the ongoing service is shockingly bad – well, non-existent at present!

    In addition to this, the free modem which was part of the package deal that I signed up to has not arrived. There doesn’t seem to be much point in having a broadband service without a modem?

    I’m certainly regretting the decision to sign with Vodafone at this point.

  7. Dear All @ Vodafone Customer Serivce,
    I am writing this mail to express serious dissatisfaction with level of service given to me during my visit at Vodafone center on Andheri kurla Road, specfic to XXXXXXXX
    I initially approached to Vishal for change of address to two of my numbers 9930444077 and 9930944077. I gave a written letter and a bank account statement as proof of address. He said bank statement was not accepted and Credit card statement would do and he would fax. I faxed the credit card statement with kind att to him with request number. There was no action taken. then I spoke to customer care and faxed the letter as well as credit card statement and only one number i.e. 9930444077 address was changed.

    I walked into store again on 2nd Oct for change of address for 9930944077. As such he was inattentive what I had to say. he was more concentrating on what other table around had to do. Then I enquired about Vodafone 527 hand set. When I asked about the features he very reluctantly said 2 to 3 features and was very discouraging on me buying the phone.(Then why do sell). Still I went a head with the purchase. I was directed to the cash counter where I encountered Jeet. He had no manners to talk to cutomers. He sat at a distance from the counter. I gave him my credit card he took and after swiping threw it out from the pigeon hole to give it back to me sitting in his own seat. Does not even have the courtesy to standup for a customer for a fraction of a second. Then I stood there for some time and he and other two people have their own discussion while I still wait. The I get a bill on a losuy piece of paper which is hardly legible. Was that a bill? The I come back to anikets desk he is missing. I happened to ask two Vodafone people around for him and they said he would be back. I waited patiently for 5 minutes at the desk he did not turn up. When I looked around I found him at another desk, too happy to help some elses table. I had to raise my voice for him to be back at the table. He returned and asked what was it rudely. I said I have been waiting at your desk expecting you to show me the handset. He wasnt even aplologitic about making me wait instead rudely asked for handset.

    Hope this is not the level of “HAPPY TO HELP” standard set by Vodafone.

    Please note a Customer can forget what you tell him but never forget how you make him feel.

    Hope to see some improvements in standard of basic customer service specially in attitude of (Vodafone Center Andheri Kurla Road, Mumbai)

    Thanking You

    G Devadas Shenoy
    +91 99304 44077

  8. Name of shop : ALLPHONES (Westfield – Carousel, Cannington, WA, Australia)

    I’d bought a prepaid Vodafone SIM card (including a $30 topup). The saleswoman said that the credit can last for 1 year and that I can retain my current mobile number. After activation, I’d realised that the credit can only last for 2 months and there’s no facility to retain my current mobile number. I went back to the shop to ask for a refund but was denied a refund, she then explained the steps that are required to make the topup last for a year. None of these were explained to me when I’d made the purchase. On top of that, I couldn’t retain my current mobile number. The shop denied any wrong-doing, and decided to expose their scam on the net. From now onwards, I would never patronise any ALLPHONES shop, non would I use any of the Vodafone products.

    PS: The shop is run by Chinese people.

  9. ello I am terribly annoyed and disappointed with your service .I am unable to receive or make calls for the last one week.Also since the time i am using this network I do not get calls from the land line.I have tried to contact you several time but there is no response.Being such a respectable company I am sorry to say your services are very much below standard.Your company claims to be second to none and this is the service you are providing I would be ashamed of this if I was a part of your company.I am absolutely helpless without the phone Can you please sort this out ASAP.I feel sorry to make such nasty comment but there is nothing that I can do I would highly appreciate your prompt service

  10. Two years later and Vodafone STILL hasn’t fixed their systems to resolve the problem that you describe.

    I experienced almost the same issue as you describe. Still not resolved… astounding that in this day and age this is accepted…

    Maybe some of us need to get together… in the US they’d just do a class action lawsuit for damages.

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