‘Hello, Vodafone customer s…, can I h…you?’
This is typical, I thought. I’m ringing to complain about them charging me £137.08 for one phone call to directory inquiries and I can’t even hear them properly because the mobile reception they provide me with is so rubbish.
‘Hello? Can you hear me?’
‘Y… I can h… you fine!’
‘Well, I can’t hear you very well. Wait a minute…’ I got up from my desk and went to the front of the house, near the street. ‘That might be better. Can you still hear me?’
‘Yes, I c… … you fine!’
‘Oh, never mind. Look, I want to ask you again about this phone call to 118 000 you’ve charged me £137.08 for. I spoke to someone in your department a few days ago and they said the charge was down to Orange directories. But I’ve contacted Orange and they’re adamant that the charge is down to you. They say they only charge £1.29 a minute but you, as my provider, increased that to £5 a minute.’
‘… just have to t… a few d…ails for sec..ity.’
‘Look. I still can’t hear you. There seems to be some sort of delay on the line. Can you hear me?’
‘Y…I … … you fine!’
‘Oh, I give up. Go ahead.’
‘Can you g… … … four digit passcode?’
‘I’m afraid I don’t remember it. In all likelihood I’ve never known it. You’ll have to think of something else. My knicker size, perhaps.’
‘Can you tell me the l…t… you ph… Vodafone?’
‘Last time I called you? Well, it was two days ago, I think.’
‘And how many ph…lines h… y… …with us?’
Eventually, she satisfied herself that I was myself and not someone going to the trouble of pretending to be me for the pure, unadulterated pleasure of arguing with Vodafone customer services on a line with a split second delay that was probably down to faulty monitoring equipment — ‘we record all calls for training and torturing purposes’.
She located the £137 phone call on my bill and repeated the defence they had given me days earlier: ‘No, that’s Orange’s charge.’
So I bade her farewell and contacted Orange again. Several calls, two days and 25 emails later, Orange was still insisting £5 a minute was not their charge. This time I called Vodafone from a land line to be absolutely sure the sound problem was not my end.
‘Vodafone c… s…, can I help you?’
‘I can’t hear you! There’s a fault on your line! Don’t you think that’s ironic?’ I shouted.
‘I can h… you fine!’
‘Oh, whatever. Look, I’m calling because you keep telling me you didn’t charge me £5 a minute for a call to Orange 118 000 directories but Orange insist you did. They say their charge was £1.29 a minute and you topped it up.’
‘I’ll h… to take you through s…ity. Can you g… me your f…digit passcode?’
‘NO! I don’t know my blasted passcode! I’ve never known it, I’m never going to know it, I wouldn’t suddenly remember it now even if you extraordinarily rendered me to Guantanamo and had me thoroughly waterboarded!’
‘That’s f… Can I ask you w…. …. ….was?’
‘I’m guessing you want to know the last time I called you? It was a few days ago. And I’ve two phone lines with you.’
‘Tha… M… Kite, that’s you through s…ity. Now let me just have a look at that ph…’
‘I still can’t hear you properly.’
‘I can h…you fine!’
‘Oh, I’m so glad.’
‘Now, I can see the ph… … you’re referring to and that was definitely Orange’s ch…’
‘Now, listen to me very carefully. I’m giving you people one last chance to come clean and admit that you topped those Orange charges up to £5 a minute. You did it. Not them. You.’
‘H…the line I… t… s….with my supervisor.’ Musak. Musak. More musak. Minutes of my life I would never ever get back drained away to the sound of hip-hop musak. And then, when she came back, she was a new woman, a righteous woman, a woman intent on being reborn through the cleansing power of truth.
‘We’re v…s…but you’re right, that is our charge.’ Hallelujah! And the children of Vodafone did walk again in the light! ‘I see. So when you said that it wasn’t your fault at all that I was charged £137 for one phone call and isn’t the world a shocking place that someone did charge me that?, what you actually meant to say was that it was totally your fault. You charged me, your valued customer, £137 for one phone call. And can you offer me any explanation as to why you said you didn’t?’
‘I’m very s… it must have b… human error.’
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