Vodafone apology deficit versus Ryanair kindness

Pricewatch: At the end of your tether? Consumer queries answered by Conor Pope

After numerous efforts, a Vodafone customer got “a semi-literate and undated letter” – apparently it had seven typos and addressed her as a man. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty

After numerous efforts, a Vodafone customer got “a semi-literate and undated letter” – apparently it had seven typos and addressed her as a man. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty

 

Vodafone billing leaves customer at wits' end

A reader called Susie contacted us saying she was “truly at my wits’ end, trying to deal with Vodafone”.

Under her contract with the mobile phone provider she gets a hard copy statement once per month and she starts her story by saying that “as soon as it arrives, I always pay the bill straight away. I have had this account for many years and have never had any problems.”

At least she never had any problems until November of last year. That was the month she got a bill “for twice the normal amount, saying my bill for October was overdue and if I didn’t pay straight away, my phone would be cut off. I had, of course, paid my bill and what is more, had lodged over €1,100 to my Vodafone account in error so they had a great deal of money from me.”

She says that in spite of this, her phone was cut off. “That was the first shot in a war of attrition, to which there has been, as yet, no solution” and she adds that the company has “steadfastly refused to apologise for breaching my contract”.

She goes on to say that all “attempts to get to speak to a person who would actually take responsibility proved fruitless. Finally, in desperation, I decided to go out to the head office of Vodafone and just wait until they let me speak to an actual person. This I did and after a very long wait, a [named Vodafone employee] finally did come down to see me.”

This staff member was, Susie says, “in listening mode and showed no reaction to the way I had been treated. So I asked him had he received the letter I sent and he said he had not. I promised to send him a copy as soon as I got home, which I did.”

‘Shocking service’

She says she specifically asked him to send me a hard copy letter, “apologising for the shocking level of service I had received, to reflect the huge amount of time, not to say money, I had spent in having to actually drive out to Vodafone in order to get any person to speak to me and I particularly requested that Vodafone would apologise to me for the breach of my contract”.

She got a call from the Vodafone employee me as she drove home “and said he had checked my account and that my bill for November contained a €30 charge for reconnecting my phone! Truly you couldn’t make it up. I assured him I hadn’t the remotest intention of paying that and he said he would take it off my bill. However, the letter I had requested did not arrive.”

She says she subsequently got “a semi-literate and undated letter” – apparently it had seven typos and addressed her as a man – “which merely repeated what he had said when I met with him”.

After that she heard nothing back until recent days. “It has now started up again as twice this month I have received text messages saying my account is overdue and my phone may be cut off. What really upsets me about all this is the fact that I am not the sort of person who tries to make difficulties for people.

“As I explained to [the Vodafone employee] when I met with him, I do not take to the airwaves to embarrass people. As a practising mediator, I believe in allowing people to admit when mistakes have been made and to put things right in private. After all, we all make mistakes – I certainly do and I strongly believe that people should be offered the opportunity to resolve issues in private. However, I now feel that Vodafone has not met this with decency, and I do hope that you may be able to get them to do so.”

We contacted the company and received the following statement. “Vodafone Ireland is currently undertaking a large scale IT & business transformation programme which will allow us to provide an unrivalled customer experience across all platforms. Customers are being migrated on to a new integrated IT system on a phased basis. While we are working extremely hard to mitigate any possible disruption, a small number of customers may experience an error. We have contacted the customer in question directly and have resolved this issue to her satisfaction. Vodafone sincerely and wholeheartedly apologises for any distress and inconvenience caused.”

A Ryanair customer was assisted rapidly in making a check-in change online with no difficulty and no additional charge. Photograph: Gleb Garanich
A Ryanair customer was assisted rapidly in making a check-in change online with no difficulty and no additional charge. Photograph: Gleb Garanich

Ryanair gives helping hand to customer checking in

Let it never be said we don’t give Ryanair credit when it’s due. Here’s a good news story from Jimmy who has, he assures us, “no connection direct/indirect to Ryanair”.

Jimmy booked flights to Girona for two adults and three kids for July. “I went to check in online and discovered one of the kids was listed as a teen (he’s not). It was to do with the way I loaded the names during booking – instead of teen, teen, child; I loaded teen, child, teen. In my innocence/defence there was no indication that I needed to load the two teens first and then the child. I thought it didn’t think it made a difference,” he writes.

He says this stopped the check-in in its tracks “and I thought uh-oh, this could cost me if I need to make a change”.

No hassle, zero charges

Fearing the worst, he looked up the Ryanair website and got the required phone numbers. “I rang customer service and dug in for a long wait. About a minute later to my surprise, the customer service rep came on the line. I gave my reservation number and tried to explain the situation. He asked some security questions to confirm my identity. Once confirmed he asked me to clarify ages. Once clarified, he made the change on-line immediately. I ended the call. I got a confirmatory email immediately and duly completed the online check-in. No hassle, zero charge. Fair dues!”

Fair enough.

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