Monday, October 13, 2008

O2, your Customer Care stinks

While some mobile phone users may change their network as often as their knickers, I have, thus far stuck with O2 because they treated me well, offered me upgrades when due and recommended changes of tariff to match my usage.

Today’s events have really come as a nasty surprise. In May last year my mobile phone broke in trying to get the back off it. I was spending a couple of days away and realised I’d forgotten my in-car charger AND I’d forgotten what model my phone was. So, tried to get the back off to find the model number while in a German autobahn services and jammed it. Found a charger that worked and the phone worked too, so didn’t bother too much about replacing it for a few months until things got worse and the battery wouldn’t charge at all for more than a few hours.

At that point (about a year ago) I called O2 thinking that what I was doing was making an insurance claim. No problems, they told me that my phone was no longer made and I could have this or that blah de blah at no extra cost. I chose something and they sent it. I had to go into a local O2 store who had to BREAK the back off the old one, but no worries, I thought, it was scrap anyway. I got my SIM out, the new phone was fine.

I’ve been thinking for a few months that if I’m going to carry on doing the various part-time jobs that I am, the most useful thing would be a GPS and it seemed easiest to go the mobile phone route since I thought I was due for an upgrade.

I went into the O2 store in West Quays and was shocked to be told that they had my ‘insurance replacement’ on record as an upgrade last October and that as they changed my tariff at the same time, on THEIR recommendation, not my request, I was locked into an 18 month contract with another 6 months to run. I told the store assistant the story but she could do nothing. In fact due to ‘data protection’ she couldn’t even see all my information and having called customer services they wouldn’t tell her even with me sitting beside her with a recent bill in my hand plus other identification.

When I got home I called Customer Services again. They said their computers were down, but there was another number I could call at a different office.

Same story, repeated everything, call centre guy put me on hold, and called someone else and came back apologetic, but could not change anything. What I had was recorded indelibly as an upgrade. I asked what else I could do and was asked to write in. Of course I will be doing so, pointing out that this is no way to treat a long standing customer (over 11 years) and that other networks had already made me better offers. Oh, and that according to other literature I’d seen the phone I wanted was supposed to be free with my level of contract on O2 - so where's the problem?

What I didn’t mention was that there was no chance whatever that I was going to cough up hundreds of pounds to have that upgrade early. Oh no. I can do exactly what I’m doing now, on ebay and bidding for an unlocked handset - my chosen Nokia N95 8gb.

Your previously excellent customer care has apparently descended into the depths of don’t care there’s always another new customer around the corner. And of course, I’ll be mentioning that when I write along with the fact that my complaint is now public property here, online for all to see.

O2, you replaced a broken phone with another one. It wasn’t my fault you couldn’t give me like for like, I would have been quite happy with another identical one, even if it wasn't brand new.

I absolutely protest that what I thought was an insurance claim has been treated as an upgrade and I don’t give a damn what your system says now, it’s wrong, and you need a lesson in public relations. You’d obviously rather spend a fortune on a huge expensive shop in a premier location like West Quay than a few pounds keeping little me happy. Bad move.


It took a week or two, a very acidic letter to customer complaints and another phone and email spat with someone who couldn't read or just couldn't be bothered, to resolve this problem.

I am pleased to say, that finally I got to talk to someone at O2 in Leeds with a bit of common sense and the recognition that it is a good idea to keep customers happy.

I now have my Nokia N95 8gb, at no extra cost per month, and I'm having fun learning how to use it.

I was also told that it is common for O2 customer services to avoid the insurance path by 'upgrading' because apparently processing a claim makes too much work for them.

The only sad bit is that a friend showed me their Iphone on Saturday and I had to admit that it knocked spots off my new toy. I will try to put aside the feelings of gadget-envy until my next upgrade really is due!