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Whatley’s N95 dead; insurance nightmare; N95 4GB exclusive

We interrupt the scheduled programming to bring you a Whatley on Friday exclusive…

– – –

Fwd: I am not happy


So – Those of you who follow me on Jaiku ( or on twitter ( may have seen this message appear late last night:

‘N95 – kaput :'(‘

What follows is an account of two hours of my life from the early evening of last night (Thursday).

Vodafone have pissed me off. Their insurance company more so – they are CLEARLY a 3rd party with nothing to do with Vodafone and as such, let them down on an almost spectacular level.
That aside – VF’s CS has seen better days.

If this issue is not resolved by the weekend, I am off to 3.
You heard it here first.

So – What happened?

Well, over the past few weeks the N95 has taken a bit of a beating… it’s, how we say in the UK, ‘been in the wars a bit’. I’ve dropped it left, right and centre and even tossed it here and there too.

Note – it was camera tossing – see here.

Anyway – The phone has been fine. I went to a meeting yesterday afternoon, switched the phone off. All fine. I leave the meeting. Switch the phone on. All fine. I get to the station and, whilst waiting for my train, I decide to check the timetable… This is not possible. Not properly anyway. Because… every time I clicked one of the right sided centre keys, the screen went blank. Bugger.

Train arrives. I get on. I test it again. Same thing; Right centre keys make the screen go blank. Left centre keys bring it back. Bugger it.

I’m just off into town for a couple of drinks with the lass and all of a sudden I have no phone… Damn.

What next? I do what any other Vodafone-loving man would do, I call Vodafone.

Here I have to pause. Here for a second, if merely for sheer dramatic effect I must take a moment… and breathe…

I have waxed lyrical about Red’s amazing customer service before, quite a lot actually; online and off.
Thing is with GOOD customer service, you become used to it.
It becomes ‘the norm”.
Anything less than above average is… well… just average.

I make the call. Bear in mind that as a ‘card carrying member’ (remember?) of Vodafone’s ‘best care’ program I have come to expect the following to happen:

‘Hello Mr Whatley, how can I help you today?”

‘Hello there, my phone is broken.”

‘Ok Mr Whatley, we can get a replacement out to you with 24hrs, where would you like it to be delivered?”

And. That. Is. It. Job done.

This is what I expected to happen. What I got was something COMPLETELY to the contrary.

CALL 1 (bodes well doesn’t it?)

‘Hello Mr Whatley, how can I help you today?”

‘Hello there, I wonder if you can help actually. It’s my phone. The screen really, it started to go off and on earlier and now… well now it won’t even come on at all”

‘And what phone do you have Mr Whatley? Says here you have the N95, is it the 8GB version?”

‘No no, I’ve got an old school original N95.”

‘Ok, and did you buy it from a store or over the phone?”

‘Over the phone. I NEVER go in store.”

‘Ok Mr Whatley, and what do you think may’ve the problem on the phone?”

‘I’m not entirely sure to be honest, I do USE my phone. I mean REALLY use it. But I know I’ve definitely dropped it twice in the last two weeks…”

‘Oh ok Mr Whatley, no problem. It sounds like you may have to make an insurance claim but that shouldn’t take a minute… Well I’ve just checked and it looks like we don’t actually have any N95s in stock anymore, but that’s ok. The insurance will just send you an 8GB instead… is that ok?”

Leaving aside my N95-1 preferences for a second…

‘Oh.. er.. ok, can’t really complain! Yes, I guess that would be fine, thank you!”

‘Ok Mr Whatley I’ll just put you through to the insurance department.”

‘Thank you very much…”


‘Hello you’re through to Vodafone In-sure-antz… *giggle* …”

Note – the giggling – the girl that I was put through to was clearly having some kind of joke on the other end of the line and was finding it hard to control her laughter. Hilarious.

‘…Before I go on.. *giggle* stop it *giggle* ..can I just tell.. *giggle* …can I just tell you that callsarerecordedfortraininperposeees…” *muffled laughter*

I’ve worked in a call centre myself. This happens. You just get the giggles sometimes.
However, I wasn’t in the mood.

I hung up and re-dialled 191.
I get through to the woman sitting next to the first woman I spoke to the first time round.

‘Oh, sorry to hear what’s happened Mr Whatley, I’ll try and put you through again…”


‘Hi Mr Whatley, I’ve explained all your details and told them what the situation is, I’ll just put you through now…”

‘Hello you’re through to Vodafone In-sure-antz, can I take your name please?”

‘Haven’t you got it…? Ok. James Whatley”

‘And how can I help?”

‘You mean you weren’t told?”

‘You want to make a claim sir?”

‘Yes. The screen on my N95. It’s broken. I need to get it replaced.”

‘And when did it break sir?”

‘This afternoon.”

‘As a result of what sir?”

‘Well, I’ve dropped it recently.”

‘When sir?”

‘A couple of times. RECENTLY”

‘Oh. So the screen was working today then sir?”


‘Did you drop it today sir?”

‘No, but I think it’s an issue of overall wear and tear if you will…”

‘But you didn’t drop it today sir?”

‘Well, no but…”

‘Well then the screen failure can’t be down to you dropping it Sir, *sigh*, it’s a warrantee issue. I’ll pass you back to customer care.”

Turns out ‘pass you back to customer care’ is a euphemism for ‘hang up on you’.

If you’ve made it this far – thank you – I applaud your reading efforts. By this time I had travelled from Oxford to Paddington and I’m now at Paddington Station when I make call number 3.

‘Hello there, I don’t have time to go through this again. I just want to complain about the poor standard of service that your insurance company provides. First they lack professionalism and second they show no real willingness to help and/or cooperate…”

‘Of course Mr Whatley, what is the problem?”

I explain. THIS TIME ROUND I’m advised that I will have to take the phone IN STORE to have it examined…

‘Look. I don’t have time to do this now. I called to complain. I need to get on the tube. I’ll call back later…”

By now I am seething. I get off the tube at London Waterloo and the lass is running a little late. ‘I’ll try again” I think… CALL 4

‘Hello there, I’ve had a rough time with CS so far this evening. I understand this isn’t your fault so I won’t scream and shout. My N95. It’s broken.”

‘Ok sir, which one do you have? The 4GB or the 8GB?”


‘Which N95 do you have sir? The 4GB or the 8GB?”

‘Er… There isn’t a 4GB.”

‘Yes there is Sir, it’s ok, you’ve probably got the 8GB, the black one right sir?”
(this time in a slightly condescending kind of ‘it’s ok sir, you don’t know about your silly little broken phone’ voice)

‘Look, I don’t have the 8GB version of the phone. I have the silver one…”

‘..The 4GB.”

‘NO! THERE IS NO 4GB N95! I work in the bloody industry and I know this phone inside and out and unless you’ve started shipping them with a 4GB MicroSD card as standard then it does not exist. The original N95, the silver one, the one IN MY HAND, comes with 160MB internal flash memory and 64MB RAM. Not 4GB.”

‘I’m sorry sir but…”

‘Look, let’s no split hairs. I know I’m right on this. It’s not why I called. I called because my phone is broken…”

‘Yes Mr Whatley, says here you’ve been advised to take it in-store to have it examined?”

‘Yes, that’s right. But that’s not good enough. I need a replacement as soon as…”

‘That’s ok sir, if you hand it over in-store they will pop it in a jiffy bag, send it off to be repaired and it will be back with 7 days tops.”

NOTE – I’ve been here before – it NEVER takes seven days. THIS is why I stopped going in-store.

‘I doubt that. Plus what am I to do without a phone?”

‘They’ll have a phone you can borrow sir…”

‘Have you ever had to borrow one from in-store before?”

‘They have the Sharp device range sir…”

‘Yes. I know. Horrid devices. They’re not nice. Listen. You don’t get it. I’m a mobile phone blogger. It’s what I do. Not having a decent handset in this business is quite frankly a ridiculous notion and I REALLY need to get this sorted ASAP!”

‘Yes sir, if you take it in-store tomorrow I’m sure they’ll be able to…”

At this point I gave up. I am SO mad. The phone, FOR WHATEVER REASON, no longer works. Actually, that’s incorrect. The screen no longer works. The phone works fine. In fact, I know my N95 THAT WELL, I’m able to send texts and make calls… in the dark if you will.

Fortunately I am lucky enough to currently be in possession of a Nokia N82 (kindly supplied by those lovely folk at WOM World (, this device however I have been using as my work phone. That reluctant was I to give up my N95 as my main device I opted to switch out the E61i for the duration of the loan period.

While I’ve been typing up this tirade I’ve been backing up/restoring/sync-ing each device to switch the N82 into my main device and the E61i back to my work device.

Incidentally – I’m not even touching upon the review of the N82 yet, or the amazing differences between the Nseries and the Eseries range of devices that I uncovered by making this switch… they can all wait for another post.

This post – THIS ONE THAT YOU’RE READING RIGHT NOW – is about how disappointed I am with Vodafone. You may call me fickle, but have a read of it again. See if you’d settle for this kind of ‘service’.

I am NOT a happy customer.

And do you know what makes it worse? It’s happened before – same problem(s)

This time though there has been no resolve.

The issue is still open.

I genuinely do not know what to do next. My instinct tells me to call VF again – To keep on keeping on. This issue has happened before and I got a replacement within 24hrs.

Why is it any different now?

Why is Vodafone’s customer service so inconsistent?

Why do they allow such a shoddy experience when it comes to their mobile insurance – which, by the way, I PAY EXTRA FOR!

If I don’t have a new N95 by the end of the weekend, or at least, on its way to me by the end of the weekend – as I said at the beginning of this post – I’m going to 3.

And I’ll tell every soul that I ever sold onto Vodafone that they made a mistake and that Vodafone don’t care about their customers, nor do they care for their (outsourced) insurance – that’s not worth the paper it is written on.

With that, I am spent. If you made it to the end, thanks.
If you’ve got a spare N95-1 lying around, let me know – I’m open to offers.

– – –

I have, incidentally, bet Whatley five pounds that if he takes his handset into a Vodafone store tomorrow, they will replace it there and then for him.

But the more I think on it, the more I wonder if actually, that’s not how things work. I wonder if the handsets in store are for ‘brand new customers only’ and not for replacements? We shall see.


  1. Whatley,

    Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time… The loss of a loved one is always hard to deal with regardless how well insured they are.

    However, about this 3 thing…

    You know I love 3. 3 and me sitting in a tree etc etc… But if you imagine for a moment things would be any better with them, well your grief really is clouding your judgement. On the few occaisions I hve actually needed to call them it has almost been comically bad… The Indian call centre is full of polite and enthusiastic people but you have to repeat everything many times over, you would have been on hold waiting to speak to someone for the duration of your journey and (although I don’t use it) I suspect their insurance would be just as bad.

    The only time I ever got the kind of experience you are looking for was with Orange years ago when they would courier you a replacement within 24hrs on their inclusive ‘care’. And, well, those happy days are long gone…

    Would be interested to know if anyone can recommend a 3rd party handset insurer that offers the kind of service you’re after. My current approach is just to not bother and resign myself to having to buy a new handset if the worst happens…

  2. Commiserations – it is like having a limb cut off!

    Wonder if Tom Rushton or one of his colleagues from the Vodafone Forum Intervention Team will pick this up & sort it for you?

  3. This sucks, I’ve been blogging about how amazing voda’s customer service is since I joined them a few months ago, they’ve really been stellar so far for me. I have my phone insurance as part of my bank account and had wondered whether it would be better to just move it to voda’s own insurance as I figured they’d replace the phone a lot faster. Guess not eh!

    Be interesting to see how long it is before a nice man from Vodafone calls you. With this much publicity I can’t believe it’ll be much longer than noon today.


  4. That is a painful read, but oh so familiar with the mobile telcos. If it’s of interest though, when my wife’s 6120c broke I reported it online to 3, it was picked up the next day and came back two days later – none of this 7+ days nonsense (I acknowledge that was a warranty job and not an insurance issue though).

    Best of British to you mate, you’re gonna need it!

  5. I feel your pain Mr Whatley. BUT – Voda have been very good to you over the years, they’ve couriered out more new phones and headsets to you than I ever would have expected. I’d have thought you’d be prepared to give them one more chance – 1 strike and your out seems a little harsh especially when there is no where better to go – will ‘3’ really meet your expectations? I’m with Ewan, take it into the store and give them a chance to replace it before switching networks.

  6. The second time you got put though to the insurance team – why didn’t you just say you dropped it today ? Insurance doesn’t cover “wear and tear”, and the insurance girl was CLEARLY trying to help you by telling you what to tell her.

  7. Hey!

    VF is just a huge company like any other on this planet and they dont care if the customer gets a good service as long as they can save some $$ by outsourcing the insurance thing…
    Thanks to capitalism …

    Greetings from Germany,

  8. I don’t understand why you old fogies stick with Vodafone just because you’ve used them since you lugged your first 1G phone around. They’re a massive multinational corporation. You owe them nothing, and they owe you everything. They are not your spouse. They are not your friend. They will not buy you a pint. They will not lend you money if you’re a bit short.

    I’m not some crazy anti-corporate activist (though I realise I may sound like one), but I do know that unless they consistently demonstrate to you that you are a special and unique snowflake, they see you more as a sausage. As much as they would like you to believe otherwise, you don’t owe them your loyalty, and by sticking by them you are actively harming yourself.

    Change. Now. Even if you end up going back to them, they won’t hold it against you. I promise.

  9. The truth is that all mobile phone insurance is a total rip off. 99% of people are covered under their home contents insurance for no charge.

  10. I know you hate them, but O2 have always been awesome with me. When I broke the little joystick on my N73 and told the woman it happened “a month and a bit” before I called the company (I was a busy busy maths teacher at the time) , she politely reassured me that it must have, in fact, happened less than a month ago otherwise I wouldn’t be phoning her because it wouldn’t be covered. That was obviously a one off but then they delivered an updated version (music edition, although mine had been beefed up to internet edition thanks to James the mind-virus), to my place of work, at a time I specified about 2 days later. The guy with the new phone took my old one (and the charger- but nothing else) away.
    I like O2, it’s a pity their data plan was so rubbish last time I was in the country…

    Joe Cooper’s last blog post..Should I Stay or Should I Go?

  11. Great read! I really love it when these people at big networks try to act smarter than us mobile phone bloggers! They are really persistent, but they keep quiet when we threaten to inform the head office that they don’t know what they saying and it will get them fired in 3 days lol.

    Anyway, I hope you get the problem sorted, next time (hope there isn’t a next time) you should lie to get it sorted..and then inform the head office about how incompetent they are, works that way here in South Africa…

    Enjoy the N82

    Meraj Chhaya’s last blog post..Can you tell the difference? Fake 7500 Comparison

  12. @xerxes: good point. But if I break my handset, I’ll have to go through all the claims hassle with my insurer – which will take a lot longer than a few days.

    Like all insurance, the house always wins. If you put your £4 a month into a pot to buy a 2nd handset to use in event of a handset failure while your baby gets replaced, you’d be quids in.

    As James was kind of offered, if you have insurance and ‘break’ (heh) your now obsolete handset, you should get a new model for nix with no extension to your contract. Now *that* might be worth the £50/year insurance fee ;-). Pop it on eBay, Then go sign up for another contract term to get a subsidised one.

    Hang on – that’s rather evil…


  13. Seeing the reference to Orange’s 24 hour replacement programme. I remember when they first launched it was 2 hours. My first replacement was shipped to me on the Isle of Wight by ferry & it still arrived within 2 hours. That was customer service!

  14. I feel for ya buddy, but ….. you was way too honest for your own good. The call should have simply gone along the lines of “It fell out of my pocket an hour ago, I have spent the last 50 minutes trying to get it to work and …..” you know the stuff. I’m with one of the previous responses, it did sound like the person at the Insurance firm was giving out some powerful hints – I got that first time as I was reading the article.

    Now I know you’re looking for sympathy geezer but, again, this is your pride and joy, your one true love, WTF were you doing chucking it in the air? Save that for an old 3 handset 😀 As I linked to this page and saw the photo of your N95 I almost burst into tears! I have never seen a handset in such a condition.

    I could go on, but I won’t. I can’t fault Vodafone myself, they have been so very attentive at sorting out issues with contracts – even putting my younger daughter on a different contract only normally available to new customers. The Insurance, being outsourced, is really out of their hands – I hate outsource with a passion. So you can’t really blame Vodafone for that.

    And don’t even get me started on 3’s Customer Service. That would be an act of “out of the fire and into the nuclear incinerator”.

  15. “…Before I go on.. *giggle* stop it *giggle* ..can I just tell.. *giggle* …can I just tell you that callsarerecordedfortraininperposeees…” *muffled laughter*

    ^^^^^^ This happened to me , when I tried for the umpteenth time to get a long running ,very costly billing issue sorted out – May be very innocent , but when you are wound up anyway the last thing you want to hear is someone laughing at you
    I honestly can’t fathom out the “Excellent CS” reputation that Vodafone appear to have acquired – as every moment of truth I have ever had with them has been a nightmare !

    I feel like there is an “Emporers new clothes” thing gong on here – I read posts all over t’internet saying along the lines of

    ” A team of Vodafone employees raped and pillaged my village last night , the burnt my car and then broke into my house and killed my family , ate all my food
    .., But when I picked up my *insert s60 clone here* and called the police , the call quality was excellent
    Bravo Vodafone !!! They are wonderful !!”

    (look for these posts , they are definately out there !)

  16. Your description of bad customer service makes me jealous. With ATT in the USA I’ve never spent less than 1/2 hour on the phone for any problem and usually they don’t fix it in only one call.

  17. Wow that sucks really bad.

    I laughed when I read the part about the call center person insisting there IS a 4GB N95. They probably got it mixed up with the iPhone or something. Anyways, I hope this gets resolved soon. And I hope that I will never have to go through something like this.

    Skyre’s last blog post..Less Hardware, More Software


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