The hard sell from Vodafone UK

Pete’s been a reader of Mobile Industry Review for a little while and decided to drop me a note after experiencing the ultra hard sell from a chap at Vodafone UK. Have a read:

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Hi Ewan, I received your dispatches about your own experiences of ‘mobile-world’ and notice you’ve leaned quite rightly towards the customer service side of things. With this in mind could I offer an ‘experience’ and share it with yourself and the readership? Hope you find the following experience one worth sharing with others.


It started out when I found was due to be made redundant. I decided I didn’t want a bells and whistles 30 day contract with Voda, opting instead to switch back to PayT and working within a real budget situation.

Voda were fine in advising me about putting things in writing, all ok there. Today I get a call from who I can only think were retentions saying they didn’t want to lose my business.

The nameless guy talked of allsorts for £8 a month, then 500 megs of data and 100 texts for £15 a month, then something else for £12 a month. This went on for a while even though I explained I didn’t want a contract and aimed to pay less not more for my mobi. He told me this was a really good deal he was putting together for me and I would need to agree before the call ended, I asked for thinking time, he didn’t offer any.

You can sense my deep disappointment when he disappeared off a few time to speak to his manager (more like muting his headset to suggest a greater sense of what wonders they are doing for me) and came back and then stalled big time when I asked if this was on a rolling 30 day contract as at present – he coughed and said no, it was a 12 month contract.

This guy had:

(1) completely failed to listen to me throughout the call and
(2) was trying to sell me something for more when I was opting to cut back and worse
(3) didn’t disclose the duration of the contract until I asked

Over my mobile years I’ve kind of rated Vodafone as being one of the best, but latterly as my (Voda) phone shows ‘Emergency Calls Only’ more and more, so their sales staff are faultering too. Appying pressure in a sales call without a contract declaration is a rotten and questionable consumer practice.

Now I’ll award them one bar on the signal strength indicator of mobile-world and an almost flat battery indicator on the other side of the screen — because I’ve always found Vodafone’s WAP access speeds to be the best.

Back to Orange for now …

Cheers –

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I’m pretty confident that most people reading Pete’s experience won’t be surprised. Getting a well-practiced, you-have-to-tell-me-now one-time-offer call from your operator is an industry wide phenomenon here in the UK. More so when the market is looking preeeety bad and when the operator would much rather have you restricted to an 18-month contract on a predictable income stream.

The upgrade call is a regular occurrence, especially if you took out your contract with a third-party organisation who most definitely has your contract end date in their diary and who is salivating at the possibility of signing you up to another 18-month deal (ideally on a rival network as their bounty is higher).

Is this a bad thing? Is the fact Pete got a call from Vodafone to try and keep his business a bad thing? No. Not in itself. Indeed, it demonstrates that the company is institutionally keen on his business. Those sound like some pretty good offers peddled to Pete. I can, too, see Pete’s frustration. It’s rather naughty to ‘hide the bad news’ (in this case, a lengthy contract that Pete expressly didn’t want). But it’s a sales process. Indeed I sign-ed up to an 18-month contract on T-Mobile UK recently by mistakenly clicking about their site to see if I could get an upgrade. I wondered how much it would cost for an N95 8GB. Click. Woosh. I’d ordered it. I didn’t have a clue what I’d just signed-up to. It was only when the phone arrived that I discovered the 18-month note.

So alas, Pete — I don’t think you can expect any better from Orange. I’m sure they have their own slightly deaf sales people who abide by the don’t-mention-it-until-someone-asks viewpoint. Strictly speaking I think the sales chap would have had to confirm what he was just about to sell you. So he’d have had to address the contract issue.

Nul points for not listening to your wishes — but alas expect similar experiences elsewhere Pete.

One final point: It really is fascinating just how our experiences of organisations are hugely influenced by the people we talk to representing those companies. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on television marketing, or good publicity — it’s all about the at the company.

I daresay if Pete had got a different sales person on the phone, explaining that they most certainly didn’t want to lose his business, he’d have reacted differently. In fact if they chap had listened and explained to Pete that although PAYG is certainly a useful method of budgeting, that a monthly contract at £8 would give him much more value [insert correct sales patter]… I’m sure it’d would have been a totally different story.

Good luck and every success Pete.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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