Technology. Dissected, discredited.

Does anyone at Vodafone actually call anyone back?

, posted: 26-May-2010 11:05

Foolishly in an attempt to save some money, I decided to switch from my perfectly good iSP (Orcon) to the slightly cheaper one, Vodafone. Big Mistake. Below is a quick run through the month and a half long process of switching to Vodafone - so far.

This is the second time in 12 months I've signed up to a service at Vodafone and the second time the processes the company uses have had major failings and caused me to waste hours of my own time, just trying to get the services I signed up for.

For some background - my partner does a 2nd job hosting a couple of TV shows and relies on the internet in the evenings to do the necessary research. Having no internet is a big issue any time but on top of this we had a couple of friends visiting before permanently moving to Austria - both needed internet access to sort the last bits and pieces before flying out.


The signup actually felt pretty good, a quick online form and the process was started. Within hours later I received an automated email saying that my account number was wrong but not to worry, all I needed to do was reply with the correct information. Done.

Then 3 weeks of nothing. No install date. No call back to say there's a problem.

I call Vodafone.
Why is my internet not switched to them yet?
"Sorry sir, it would seem someone had set the account number with Orcon as my home phone number."
Fixed. Over the next week a flurry of automated emails welcomed me to the wonders of Vodafone. My switch date was set. No services would be disrupted.

Then on the day of switching, a Friday and in the late morning, the phone rang a couple of times and stopped. My inner nerd told me it was them probably switch the lines in the cabinet. Great, just as I had been told.

Then the internet went off. No DSL link my modem reported. I gave it an hour or so and then called Vodafone to see how long it would take before we'd be back online.
"Yes we have indeed taken over your phone line, but your internet won't switch til next week. It will still be on and if you are having any issues call Orcon as they are still your provider."
Are you sure I asked.
I commented I hope like hell Vodafone hadn't just cut my internet for a week as there had been zero warning that might happen.
"No Sir, please call Orcon for help."

The call with Orcon took another 40mins as I was forced to run through the dreaded idiot proof checklist before a fault could be lodged.
"I've lodged the fault sir, our provisioning team will look into it in the next 24-72 hours."
Keep in mind this is Friday afternoon - so that meant Monday. No Internet all weekend.

Monday comes and you know what - Orcon called me back (take note here Vodafone).
"Unfortunately sir we don't have control of that line any more, Vodafone does."
Just as I thought when I first called Vodafone on Friday but was promised the opposite.

Back on the line to Vodafone I was told there was an unexplained hold on the install. They lifted the hold but said that I was now on the list and the internet would be on 'soon'.
I had thought this was meant to be a seamless process and to all happen almost instantly -
"I usually does sir"
Another 2 days without the internet.

Wednesday finally came and our DSL was activated and the internet back. Problems solved - now the easy bit for Vodafone - sit back and profit from my passive income that is my monthly bill.

The next day I did receive a random email saying my cap had been blown but as I signed up for 40gb of data I assumed it was just a hiccup in the system. Our internet was working normally and I was well and truly over Vodafones hold music.

Of course, I should have known better - just after 9pm Friday night comes and midway through some tragic MTV reality show - the internet stops. What better way to spend ones Friday night than a 40 minute tech support call.
So it seemed my account had two issues - the plan was set to the EasyPack plan (1GB, Full down, 128k up) but far more importantly - it had been canceled.
"I don't know, there seems to be two accounts, I'll stop the current cancelation and get that account working again"
I asked that if I had blown the 1gb cap in their system, will I get a 64k speed limited internet when the account works again?
"No Sir, it should all be running at normal speed, you will need to call back tomorrow (Saturday) though and talk to sales to get you moved back to the unlimited upload speed though."
After the phone call and a modem restart, the internet was not running at normal speeds and clearly the limit was still in place but by now it was late and I was well over Vodafone.

Saturday morning and another call to Vodafone (also funnily enough just as I get a physical letter confirming apparently I had requested canceling my account).
"I'm very sorry about this sir, it would seem you have been put on the EasyPack plan, and you clearly signed up for the 'Ultimate Pack' - unfortunately I can't physically change the plan here as provisioning need to make a change."
"I will upgrade you to the ideal pack (5gb, Unlimited down, 128k up) and add another 5gb so you can use your internet without issues until I can sort it out on Monday morning."
"I will call you back on Monday once we've sorted it out."

Suffice to say its now Wednesday, I've blown my temporary 10gb cap and am yet to hear back from Vodafone.

Well posting experiences on bad service does seem to get things fixed. And Vodafone eventually made everything right although it still took 3 weeks of atrocious service and support. And now, a few months on from my experience our service has worked flawlessly since - it's a shame the signup and setup process at Vodafone is so terrible.

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Comment by wongtop, on 26-May-2010 11:52

My brother tried to switch to Vodafone to save some $$.  Specifically told them he didn't want a modem as he already had one.  They sent him a router anyway, but couldn't seem to pull the right levers to get the ADSL switched over.  After a month of waiting my brother gave up on them and told them that if they wanted their modem back they would have to arrange to pick it up, which they eventually did.

He's still with vodafone for mobiles though.

Comment by trig42, on 26-May-2010 13:45

I feel your pain.

It seems to be like that when you switch any provider, either for fixed line or broadband, UNLESS, you are switching to Telecom.

I had to give up my Voda broadband account (been an Ihug customer since dial-up, through Satellite and then ADSL) because they wanted $150 (maybe more) and 10 working days to move my phone and broadband to a new house (if I wanted to keep my current email that is, would have been cheaper to open a new account). Telecom did it perfectly in 3 days and for $50.

I see lots of people struggling with change of Telco/ISP - it seemingly never goes uninterrupted or smoothly. Maybe because a lot of the gear in in Telecom exchanges and they make it difficult? I don't know, but unless you are switching to Telecom, it always seems to turn to custard.

Comment by Paul Brislen, on 26-May-2010 14:38

If you email me your details I'll get someone to look into it for you.



Comment by BigA, on 26-May-2010 20:40

I understand your pain. I had a scenario that was nothing short of frustrating when moving from Orcon to Telecom back in March. (moved due to wanting Tivo).

However to add to my misery. Orcon has not refunded a months worth of additional charges they forgot to stop and we are almost in June now!!!

Comment by Linuxluver, on 26-May-2010 21:47

The experience you describe is more or less the norm when dealing with an underlying Telecom line being re-sold by anyone else...and with ISP services on top. 

I've had the same set of things happen three times in a row - all with Orcon - and the issue is how Telecom provision phone lines and THEN provision DSL only AFTER the phone line has swapped over. The order for the DSL service cannot even be ENTERED until the phone line has gone live....and then you wait anywhere up to a week for it to actually work.

This sounds like kafka-esque stuff.....but having been through it three times in the past 4 years, I can now see that is just how it works. The ONLY way to go fast on this is to do it all with Telecom phone line and Telecom Xtra as the ISP. This is one of the reasons the last government forced the separation of Telecom's operational units.

Sounds like clerical errors either by yourself or Vodafone (wrong numbers in fields) cost you some of the delay...and may have messed up the flow for later. These processes all have a VERY fragile feel around them.

But given I have had virtually the same experience shifting house three times...and Telecom and Orcon were involved every time - it seems to me it's the process that's naff.....not any individual ISP.

Not being able to place the DSL order until after the phone line has gone live is very annoying. No way to pre-provision exchange resources....and they explained this is because people are being connected and disconnected every hour of every day so they do not have any way of forward-provisioning a slot with 100% reliability.  So they do it sequentially...and that can take days. 

I now have an Android-based phone I used as a WiFi AP to 3G to tether all the PCs and heldhelds in the house to the Net when the DSL it sometimes does late on Friday when someone at the exchange unplugs my connection during maintenance and the plugs it back intothe wrong port. That's happened twice in the past 9 months. They sort it out on Monday....meanwhile i would have no Internet all weekend if it were not for my wifi-tethering Android phone that can also be an AP for the house.

Comment by richms, on 26-May-2010 22:39

Changing ISPs has never been seamless when I have done it.

Safer to get a new install and then cancel the old ISP on the old line. More work for the poor chorus guys but the price is practically the same for the end user either way, plus if the new one is crap you can tell them to get lost without worrying about internet.

Comment by numfarr, on 27-May-2010 00:03

I had almost exactly the same runaround switching from Snap phone/ISP to Telecom phone /ISP. Was without broadband service for a week, had to use my Vodem. They just can't seem to do it properly and it is Telecom's fault.

Comment by paulspain, on 27-May-2010 10:47

In my experience, the issues you describe are not specific to Vodafone. We've experienced the same with many other multinationals - banks, Telcos, PC vendors, etc. We've even had this from so called 'Client Managers' at Gen-i (Telecom).

Basically if you're dealing with a large or multinational firm and you're a small customer then you probably need to make very specific notes about each call and keep following up because they may not call you back. Don't expect someone in a call centre on the other side of the world to actually care ... or even someone in a call centre locally. Bottom line is that it likely makes zero difference to the person on the end of the phone if you stay a customer or not.

Comment by cyberhub, on 28-May-2010 10:30

I have to agree with Richms, I have been provisioning broadband for my clients lately as a reseller and if you must have a broadband connection at all costs you should request another line with broadband on it. 

You may have additional fees if you don't already have another line in your building but you won't have any downtime with the change over.

Once the new connection is live you simply plug your router into the new line and program it with your new DSL settings and all you have to do now is cancel your old connection. 

Another way is to get a Vodem or XT wireless broadband stick to tide you over if you have any down time with the broadband change over.  You can get these on prepay as well to minimize cost.

Comment by jjero, on 30-May-2010 20:48

I had similar problems trying to sign up to Orcon at the beginning of the year when I moved into a new flat.

After two weeks of waiting to get connected with numerous hiccups I was told that I was still connected to a Telecom phone number (which I wasn't and Telecom confirmed that I wasn't). I put my cellphone next to the home phone to prove to the call centre person that I wasn't connected and was apologised to and said that I'd be connected within a couple days. I called back in a couple days and was told that because of that mistake they had to start the process all over again (i.e. two more weeks) with no guarantee of connection. So basically it would have taken around one month to get connected.

I said screw that and joined Telecom on a Friday. They connected my home phone line that day, and I was connected to the internet on the Monday (three days or one business day).

I probably spent about 6 or 7 hours calling Orcon in total. Also I often had to wait 30-60mins to talk to someone. With Telecom I was almost always put on the line with someone within 5 minutes.

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