This was going to be about how a major phone company surprised me by delivering a fantastic service.
I was quite excited because secretly I have always wanted to be forced to admit that in spite of my rock bottom expectations, all is right with the world.
It began when I went into the Carphone Warehouse to buy a new iPhone, something I had dreaded and put off for so long that my old iPhone was held together with gaffer tape.
I sat down with a nice chap and told him I wanted a phone exactly like my old one, because I’m weird. He said they no longer did 64 gigawotsits — he said the proper word, obviously. The available options were 32 or 128 and he recommended 128 because 32 was impossibly low and I wouldn’t be able to download. I explained that I didn’t download. ‘What, no apps?’ ‘No apps,’ I said. ‘No apps, no music, no films. Give me 30 gig and let me go,’ I pleaded, and I revealed that I had a case of hives and a panic attack head buzz coming on already.
‘Fine, calm down,’ he said, getting narky, and he started to look for deals. Oh dear God, why do they call them deals? They are anything but deals. Deals for them, maybe. He explained that I could have a phone I didn’t want for £189.95, or a phone I wanted even less for £399.95. ‘What about the free upgrade EE has been texting me about for months?’ I asked.
‘Yes, these are the free upgrades. It’s £189.95 or if you want a really good phone…’
‘Stop! Just give me the cheapest phone on the cheapest deal.’ He really didn’t want to do that but I forced him to and then the trouble began. Insurance. I said I didn’t want it. I had some with the bank. He asked me what it covered. I said I didn’t care. He called up a questionnaire on his iPad and said: ‘Then we must complete this form.’ ‘Must we?’ Yes, we must. Turns out they’re regulated by the FSA. Well, of course they are. They’re mainly selling insurance, not phones.
It was about 20 questions long and as ludicrous as: ‘If you go abroad and are robbed, how many days could you last without a phone before your family ended up destitute and you had to commit suicide because of the shame and desperation you’d brought on yourself by not taking this cover?’ I went along with it answering ‘No… no… I don’t care… sod them… I hope I do drop the damn thing down the loo…’ until he neared the end and asked: ‘Do you agree with our recommendations?’ I shrugged. ‘Just two options,’ he said. ‘Yes or no.’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘Oh,’ he said, crestfallen. ‘No one has ever said that before.’ ‘Well, now they have.’ ‘But you have to say yes or we can’t go to the last question, which asks if you want to take the cover, then you can say no.’ ‘But I don’t want to say yes and no. I want to say no and no.’ ‘This has never happened before,’ he said, looking wretched.
Purely out of compassion, I answered yes and no. Then the system allowed him to sell me the cheap phone without insurance on the cheap deal, which happened to be with Vodafone.
But by then it was 8 p.m., closing time and too late to put it through. We requested a Porting Authorisation code to close down my account with EE and switch. I would have to come back the next day.
The next morning, EE rang me. A lovely girl said they were devastated I was leaving them and they would do anything to keep me. ‘Will you give me a free upgrade that is really free?’
‘Please have the new iPhone 8, 64GB, completely free and is £33 a month for calls all right?’ Stunned, I said that it was.
‘We would also like to send someone to your home with the phone to set it up for you as a special thank you.’
‘This is amazing!’ I said, throwing cynicism to the wind. I almost started typing an apology to readers making it clear that I had misjudged the world. EE was fantastic! But on the appointed day, the guy bringing me my phone called me: ‘I’m outside your house in London.’ ‘No, you’re not. Because I don’t have a house in London any more. I live in Surrey.’
EE rang and arranged a delivery by courier a few days later. I booked a slot for 1–2 p.m. But that morning, I got a baffling text to say that as requested my delivery had been cancelled. ‘Click here to book your new time.’ Click. The icon didn’t lead to anything. Normal service had resumed.
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