Pricewatch: Reader’s query

A Vodafone broadband customer is awaiting connection, and is fast running out of patience

A Vodafone spokeswoman has said there were ‘unusual complexities in terms of providing a service’

A Vodafone spokeswoman has said there were ‘unusual complexities in terms of providing a service’

Mon, Oct 14, 2013, 01:00

Mike Curtin got in touch about Vodafone broadband problems. He was in the company’s shop in Tralee a couple of months ago and signed up for the At Home service.

“It was €30 for the modem and €30 per month after that. I was told the modem would arrive in the post, and all I’d have to do would be plug it into the phone line and it would be ready to go,” he writes.

“My land line had been deactivated a few years beforehand, as we were not using the house phone. Vodafone were to organise it being switched on again,” he continues. “I received the modem in the post about a week later. But it didn’t work, so I phoned tech support, they checked the connections and checked the line, and said an engineer would come to my house to investigate the issue.”

This engineer was to contact Curtin and arrange the time and date. “No one contacted me, so I phoned again. Another tech guy told me he would reset the line, and to wait half an hour, and then to plug it in and switch it on and it should work.”

Our reader was told that, in the event it didn’t work, he should phone Vodafone straight away. “This was around 8.30pm on a Friday. At 9pm I plugged it in and switched it on but no joy. When I phoned I got an automated voice saying they closed at 9pm.”

Curtin waited until the following Monday, and phoned again. “I was told an engineer would come to my house and check the line. Again days went by and no one contacted me. Each time I rang Vodafone I was passed from customer care to tech support, and each time I was asked my name, email address, date of birth and phone number.”

He had to provide this information up to four times every call, he says. Curtin remained patient, but after six weeks he was “pig sick of the whole thing so I packed up the modem to return it to the store”.

As luck would have it, that was the day an engineer called to the house. “My wife sent him away, as I was returning the modem at that point out of sheer frustration. She phoned me at work. We said we would give them one more try to get the broadband working, so I phoned Vodafone again – giving my name, date of birth, email, address and phone number – and asked for the engineer to call on the Monday, when I would be off work.”

The next morning, as he was on his way to work, Vodafone’s engineer phoned Curtin saying he was outside the house.

“I told him no one would be there and he was supposed to call on the Monday when I’d be there to let him in. He told me there would be a charge if he had to come into the house. I explained the problem to him. Later I got a voicemail from him. He was ringing from the pole outside my house, where he had checked my land line. He said it was working now.”

The broadband was still not working, however. So Curtin rang Vodafone. Again he got the runaround. Vodafone had also taken €88 from his current account.

“I asked for my money back and to cancel the contract as I was fed up of all of it. They couldn’t agree to that as the issue was still open, so no refund could be made, and if I cancelled the contract I would have to pay a cancellation charge. I asked to speak to a supervisor. He could not put me on to anyone, as they don’t take calls, he said.”

Curtin was promised a call back. It never came. “I have sent several emails to them during this time and I tend to get a reply five days later. I get text messages from them saying they are working on the issue, but I am getting nowhere. I lodged an official complaint, but nothing has happened,” he says. “Is there any way out of this? If I bought a faulty product I would be entitled to a refund. Surely the same rules apply here? When all this started, I gave O2 one month’s notice to cancel the mobile broadband, and that has since ended, so I have no internet access at all now.

We contacted the company, which apologised “unreservedly” and said it is now “working with this customer to resolve the issue”. A spokeswoman said there were “some unusual complexities in terms of providing a service . . . that were outside of the norm”.

She said his telephone line was what is termed a “non-standard delivery”.

“In this case there were unusual complications. This happens in circumstance where broadband may or may not be available. These complexities drove delays in terms of resolution. However, this level of service is not up to standard and as a result, we are conducting a review of our non-standard delivery processes and support processes to make sure we introduce necessary changes to prevent this from happening again.”