This post is brought to you by T-Mobile, whose company motto: “Who are you and why should I care?” is truly inspiring, and mobile phone insurance idiots Fonesafe with their proud motto: “Yur…3-4 days mate…or is that 7-10 days?”
Yes, dear blog reader, I’m ready for a good old-fashioned rant, so grab a drink, a bite to eat and prepare your eyeballs for a tale of obscene stupidity, pathetic excuses and the most appalling customer service I’ve ever seen – worse than BT if you can believe such a thing exists! This tale happened to a close friend of mine and needs to be shared, not just for jollies but to give a heads-up to potential T-Mobile customers.
This is your alarm bell.
It all started…
Back in August 2012 when the world seemed like a brighter place. The 16th was a sunny Thursday, blue skies, smiling shoppers enjoying their carefree amble through Cambridge city centre. I accompanied my friend, let’s call her Summer, to the T-Mobile shop where she planned to buy the Samsung Galaxy S3. Summer had been a loyal and happy Virgin Mobile customer for many years, but their deals for the S3 were pricey – £41 per month – compared to other networks who were offering it for around £36 pounds.
Might not seem like much but pounds all add up and can mean the difference between a new car or an air freshener for your crapped out old banger.
Summer spoke to a Customer Advisor (CA) who went through the usual boring credit check, address, ID, DNA sample, personality tests and so on. Summer went for the Full Monty 36 Deal – lots of minutes, lots of texts and all the data usage she could eat, for the lovely price of £36 per month.
The Full Monty 36 was actually not £36 a month but £33. Summer was pleased as she could walk away with a shiny new phone, eager to enjoy the world of Android Ice Cream Jelly Bean Sandwich goodness.
Have you considered insurance?
Summer umm’d and ahhh’d. She’d not had mobile phone insurance on her old phone, but maybe with such a top of the line phone like the S3 it would make sense just in case it got damaged or stolen. Sure. Okay. I’ll go for it.
That’ll be £8.99 per month.
Wait. What? So I’ll paying £41.99 a month? Sigh. Okay. I guess it’s worth it.
Coolio! Sign here, and here, aaaaand here. I’ll just scribble £33 next to the bit where it says: T-Mobile Price Plan: Fully Monty 36. Here’s your lovely new phone. Thanks for shopping at T-Mobile.
And away we went, skipping back to the car. The customer service in the shop had been very good – the chap smiled and shared our banter, he was courteous and well spoken. I’d love to say: “Summer and her S3 lived happily ever after, until her 24 month contract ended without any mishaps, problems or stress.”
But then there’d be no point to this rant would there?
Let’s turn the page and see how the story pans out.
The next morning…
After a full nights charge, Summer was wide awake and eager to start exploring her new phone. How shiny it looked. So full of potential with technology crammed into every HD pixel. I admit I was more than a little envious to see her brushing her fingers across the screen like she was stroking the soft luxurious fur of a precious mythological beast.
The world seemed to hold its breath when the phone slipped out of her fingers and…
It landed with that certain type of sound that lets you know the damage won’t be something you can live with, like a minor scratch or dent. You know before you gently lift it off the floor that the precious has been deeply scarred.
The screen was cracked. Shattered in places. Certainly not cosmetic stuff. One slip and the object of desire was rendered unusable. After the initial shock and upset, Summer was consoled somewhat by the fact that she was lucky to have taken out the insurance after all.
A call to fonesafe would sort this out, no problem. After all it had been an accident and considering she’d had the phone less than 24 hours there shouldn’t be a problem. Summer phone fonesafe and spoke to Jack (real name btw) who said that because she’d only bought the phone the day before they hadn’t received any of the paperwork for her insurance cover.
That can take 7-10 days to come through, or was it 3-4 and then 7-10 days to go through their systems? No, wait, it must be 7-10 days to receive the paperwork and then a further 7-10 days for that massive amount of information to trickle through their modern computer systems.
In other words her documents would arrive at fonesafe within a day or two of being posted from the T-Mobile shop then sit in a tray marked: “Morons” for weeks on end until someone gathered together enough brain power to process them.
Not worry. All Summer needed to do was email email@example.com with copies of:
- Proof of ID – Passport, driving license etc.
- Proof of address – utility bill.
- Bank statement.
Seemed like a lot of information but understandable since the policy hadn’t been set up yet. So Summer emailed firstname.lastname@example.org with scans of the requested documents attached – but not the bank statement. She wasn’t happy about emailing a copy of her bank statement. That didn’t seem very secure. Jack at fonesafe informed her that they don’t accept bank statements from online banking, Summer would need an actual real bank statement or a letter from the bank.
Holiday at the worst – or best time?
Summer had booked a holiday for the 18th August. She wouldn’t be able to sort this mess out until she got home a week later. Not to worry. Surely fonesafe would process her claim for a damaged phone and send a courier round to pick it up whilst she was gone.
On the 29th August, Summer emailed email@example.com again as she’d returned from her holiday and the phone hadn’t been picked up. Scans of her documents attached again.
Not even an automated: “Thanks for your email” email.
So Summer phoned fonesafe to complain that although she’d done what was asked of her, there had been no word in reply. She was told that someone had given her the wrong email address. Now she needed to email everything again to a different email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – which would hopefully resolve the matter and get the claim processed.
11 Days into contract without a usable phone.
On a side note, I’m always baffled when different CA’s give out wildly different chunks of information. Those email address’s are very different. How can a company train their call centre staff so badly that they don’t know such simple things as an email address for making a claim? Surely this should be pretty near the top of the list for call centre staff to know, since they are in fact an insurance company?
August 30th – abusive moron day.
Summer calls T-Mobile to complain. She’s put on hold for 28 minutes. She’s had no reply from her email to email@example.com and she wants to talk to a manager or senior team leader, anyone who isn’t reading a script from screen. Surely there must be someone she can speak to who cares about her problem?
It’s worth pointing out that whilst T-Mobile recommend fonesafe, they’re not the same company. That’s little use to someone who isn’t getting any joy from either company.
Aside from the obvious issue with fonesafe not contacting her or even acknowledging her emails, Summer wants to know why her contract says she will be billed £36 for her first month, when she was assured by the T-Mobile CA that it was actually £33. The call centre idiot has a very thick Indian accent and it’s hard for Summer to understand him.
Now this isn’t a racist issue but one of linguistics I think. If you can’t understand someone then it’s perfectly acceptable to request to speak to someone you can understand.
But the CA at the call centre – who calls himself Leo and offers his ID number as L1910 – flatly refuses to put Summer through to a manager or team leader. It’s at this point that the call becomes more about the hassle and stress incurred from phone damage etc, and more about Leo’s angry and abusive manner.
Summer states she’s not happy with the phone call, Leo’s attitude, his rudeness, the service he’s offering (or not offering) and not at all happy with T-Mobile or fonesafe.
She wants to speak to someone senior.
No. You can’t speak to my manager.
You must return to the shop and speak to the CA there, where you bought it from.
But Summer doesn’t see why she should have to. Customer Advisor’s are there to help, right? So may I speak to a manager please?
No. I will not put you through to my manager. I refuse. He will only say what I have said.
This goes back and forth for roughly 10 minutes. I can’t believe the absurdity of the phone call that I’m listening to on speaker phone. Leo raises his voice, gets angry and in turn Summer becomes angry. A fair reaction I’d say.
Finally Leo says he will put Summer through to his manager.
Then he cuts her off.
Line goes dead.
I call the T-Mobile shop in Cambridge because Summer is upset by the fonesafe call centre muppet. The kind chap we saw a few weeks ago assures me that Summer will get a bill for £36 but in fact the amount taken from her account will be £33. Don’t worry, he says. It just goes through like that.
Summer takes his word for it.
Funny thing is that a few days later she checks her bank statement. Yep. She’s been billed for £36 not £33 as promised.
21 Days into contract without a usable phone.
Out of the blue Summer gets a phone call from Rachel at fonesafe who is calling to find out how her claim is proceeding. Rachel apologises that Summer was told she had to provide an original bank statement. Turns out Summer can email a copy of her online bank statement.
That’ll be just fine, thank you kindly. You just pop that in an email and we’ll take care of the rest, sure as eggs is eggs, okay then? Righty-ho.
Summer emails her bank statement to firstname.lastname@example.org FAO Rachel.
Rachel advises Summer that once this has been received a collection bag will be sent to her home so she can return the phone and get it repaired or replaced. Okay, it’s taken a while but something is finally happening.
Hold your horses there, dear blog reader, we’re not ready to tap the heels of our shoes together and head back to Kansas just yet.
Not even an automated: “Thanks for your email” email.
26 Days into contract without a usable phone.
Summer phones fonesafe. Understandably she’s upset and angry with the extreme lack of care and very poor customer service. She speaks to Becky and asks to speak to someone in the complaints department. Becky says no. You can’t do that as there’s no direct line. Oh-ho, no surprise there really!
Becky has trouble finding Summer’s details on her computer. Summer gives her name, address and telephone number. Nothing. No trace. In the T-Mobile shop Summer had her mobile phone number transferred from Virgin Mobile to T-Mobile using a PAC code.
Do you have the mobile number that T-Mobile issued you with your new SIM card?
Yes. Summer reads it out.
Now Becky can see Summer’s details.
WTF? That number is wrong. Summer had the number changed the same day she registered the phone at the T-Mobile shop. In fact Summer put the SIM card into an old phone and used it because her new phone was broken. So it does work. How on earth can so many things go wrong with something that should be so simple to set up and process?
Anyway, Summer wants to get to the issue – getting her phone repaired.
Then Becky drops the bombshell.
Summer’s emails have NEVER been received.
Becky wants to know if Summer received an acknowledgement email from fonesafe. No, says Summer. Not a single email. Summer asks Becky to send her an email so she can reply to it and make sure it’s the right email address. Summer wanted to make sure her bank statement was received by the right person this time so she made Becky wait on the line while the email went through.
Where had her previous emails gone? Who had she been emailing her personal and financial details to?
And behold! The email went through to Becky, not the email@example.com but to the firstname.lastname@example.org she’d been given at the start, only to be told it was the wrong one! Summer is very angry at this point. She demands to know why the email address was changed. Why had she been told no email had been received when all of a sudden it works while she’s on the phone to fonesafe?
What the frack are these moronic fickwits playing at?
Becky says that because Summer can’t complain she has to retell the same story yet again to Becky who can pass on the details of the complaint. Summer doesn’t want to tell her story again, she’s sick of fonesafe, T-Mobile and the bullshit they spew at every opportunity.
Different email addresses.
Different dates for processing claims, setting up claims, processing paperwork, cranking up the PC and stoking the fire with plenty of coal – endless crap that seems only to delay a customer making a genuine claim. Becky has more bad news. Summer’s Samsung Galaxy S3 – the one that she’s only used for about an hour since she bought it 26 days ago – was white, and fonesafe can’t guarantee she’ll get the same colour.
It comes in 2 colours: White and Pebble Blue. Summer wanted the WHITE one. She expects a white one back. Becky doesn’t seem to give two shits what Summer wants. She isn’t interested. Summer says Becky and fonesafe should be embarrassed at how long this process has taken, that their customer service is so shoddy it borders on make-believe.
Becky doesn’t care because fonesafe don’t care.
So, a bag is going to be sent out to Summer so she can return the phone. Next day pick-up then?
No. Did you think it would be that easy, dear blog reader?
Becky explains that it may take 3-4 days for them to get the bag in. Yes. They have to order it – fonesafe, a mobile phone insurer who deal with claims for broken and stolen phones – don’t actually have any bags. They have to order them and then post them out to their customers.
3-4 days then, or is it 7-10, or maybe 26?
Another bombshell drops. What fun!
Because Summer is making a claim, she has to pay an excess of £30. AND because she is making a claim within the first month of her policy that excess is double – £60. Summer can’t believe what she’s hearing. After all the bullshit, phoney excuses, lack of contact and shitty customer service, fonesafe are insisting Summer pays £60 to get her phone repaired.
No mention of letting that drop as a goodwill gesture for the crap service.
Now I understand that a business is there to make money. Obviously, but this is taking the piss. It’s the attitude that staggers me. No hint of concern for Summer’s stress and hassle. Just: “You can pay the £60 by card. Will you be doing that today?”
How about you go fuck yourself Becky? How would that be?
And so to the ending…kind of.
This evening I phoned T-Mobile on Summer’s behalf. She informed the CA that I was acting on her behalf as she’d had enough bullshit. I’m happy to argue with anyone about anything. I love a good debate. That doesn’t mean I’m an angry person or abusive. Stern maybe, and forceful but I respect what other people have to say and admit when I’m wrong.
I set the land line on speaker phone and put my mobile phone next to it so it could record the conversation. I wasn’t taking any chances. I’ve documented every aspect of this fiasco on paper but I wanted proof of this phone conversation. After all we’ve all heard that message: “This phone call may be recorded for training purposes” so we, as consumers, have the same right to safe guard ourselves.
I was polite, yet forceful.
I explained to Marcus, the kindly spoken T-Mobile CA who had a twinge of Yankee accent there somewhere, the entire story, stating that I understood that he couldn’t comment on fonesafe policy etc. However, considering T-Mobile’s affiliation with fonesafe, surely they would understand Summer’s issues and offer advice.
Thankfully, Marcus was a decent guy who listened carefully, asked questions for the right answers and then requested he put us on hold for a few minutes. How nice. Asking if we wouldn’t mind holding. For once a considerate CA! When he returned he said he couldn’t do anything about the £60 excess charge fonesafe insisted on, as we’d need to speak to them tomorrow.
However, he did apologise for the trouble Summer has had and offered a discount on her next months bill. 25% or was it 15%? Not that it matters. It felt like a win. It’s not though. Not really. A 15% discount is a hollow victory (or no victory really) for the amount of hassle, stress and time wasted on a company that promises so much and delivers nothing.
In the end Summer wants a phone that works.
She wants the Samsung Galaxy S3 that she’s looked forward to owning.
She wants someone, in either company, to understand and sympathise to the point where they’re willing to admit they’ve screwed up and waiver the £60 excess this one time.
Isn’t that a fair suck of the sauce bottle?
The story will continue…
Tomorrow I’ll be calling fonesafe. With Summer to confirm her details. I’m hoping to get an acknowledgement that they’ve messed her about and will push to have the £60 excess dropped in light of extremely bad customer service. I’ve looked up http://www.ofcom.org.uk and http://www.cisas.org.uk and Summer is prepared to contact them if necessary to make a formal complaint along with one to T-Mobile’s complaints department.
Word of warning.
If you wish to complain to T-Mobile don’t bother calling the number on their website. It may appear as if it’s there for you to make a complaint but it links to their normal customer services number.
To complain you have to do it in writing – for those living in the UK.The Complaint Investigations Team
6 Camberwell Way
Tyne and Wear
My advice for making any complaint in writing:
- Don’t rant or rage.
- Don’t use bad language, slang or swear words.
- Don’t insult.
- Don’t threaten legal action or media attention.
- Don’t ramble on about your personal anguish.
- Don’t write anything that isn’t a fact.
- Don’t cite endless legal precedents or what you’ve read or seen in the news.
- Keep to the facts about your complaint.
- Use dates, times accurately and consistently.
- Attach copies of documents if you wish.
- Be polite.
- Admit good service if there has been any.
- Be patient. I know it can be infuriating but don’t go calling your company in a day and expect a huge apology. It takes time for complaints to be read, understood, examined and acted upon.
- Do include as much contact information as you can: phone number, email address, house address, alternatives if you have them.
Last word…for now.
And there you have it, dear blog reader, my rant for the day. It’s taken me two hours to write all this up. I offer you my apologies if this has felt like a marathon. It needed to be said and I thank you for sticking with it.
It boils down to not taking what someone says for granted. Just because someone tells you something on the phone doesn’t mean it’s true. A point proven time and again whenever you call a company call centre – the staff are following a script, they’re not paid to think beyond that.
It angers me that customer service is so often very poor. Try Googling T-Mobile complaints or fonesafe complaints and you’ll find plenty of other people left angry and confused. And it shouldn’t be like that. But hey, that’s the world we live in. It sucks but you have to remain calm and committed to your complaint if you’re to get anywhere.
Don’t be fobbed off by the first thing someone tells you on the phone.
And remember that life is too short to stress over the little things, and yes, these are little things. Complain if you wish, but once it’s done put it out of your mind, smile and move on with the knowledge that you did what was necessary to fight your case. No more, no less.
Dwelling on the stresses of the past is as absurd as asking a monkey to build you a car or write a symphony.