As the OP, I am quite heartened by the comments here that show I am not alone in having a hard time getting hold of Vodafone and sorting out the contract. I'm one of those old-fashioned people who usually hate complaining. I reckon its a Kiwi fault; Americans or Germans would never put up with bad service. Kiwis often just make a mental note to avoid something or somewhere in future and tell others, but don't complain. Do you agree?
I don't have time for social media so that's not an option, thanks anyway for the suggestion.
We actually joined Telstra Clear, as it then was, in the early 90s because we wanted to support an alternative to Telecom, which at the time was monopoly hellbent on laying people off while raking in handsome bonuses for its top executives.
The telecoms companies are what they are. We have to deal with them. In this age of instant feedback, however, and in a competitive market, it would be nice to think companies actually listened to their customers and acted on their suggestions to provide better service -- and encourage customer loyalty.
In the meantime, something else that may be helpful is any advice on getting hold of a real person straightaway by phone without having to go through the labyrinthine menu system.