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Vodafone intransparency

Coming to New Zealand for an extended period of time, I figured it would make sense to purchase a prepay mobile plan to make it easier to mix with locals. Not knowing better, I went with Vodafone, which I whole-heartedly regret: their website is a massive pain in the ass, their price plans completely over the top, and their customer service representative incompetent and unfriendly.

My latest experience eclipsed all previous encounters, and makes me want to tell you about it:

Between all the obscure add-ons Vodafone threw at me when I bought this SIM card, two weeks ago I couldn't figure out how my balance had decreased from $30 to $0 when I rarely ever made calls.

I wrote an e-mail to their customer service hotline, and it took them a week to get back to me, with the following text:

Due to being a Prepay Customer, unfortunately usage details are not available as per terms and conditions. I have although checked your usage and can confirm that all charges are correct.

Obviously, I wasn't going to accept this claim of omniscience, so when last weekend, $20 disappeared over the course of a day, that was the catalyst for me to reopen the ticket and reply along the lines of:

Only I know when I used my phone and thus only I can determine whether the charges are correct. Please show the full records to me, or else …

This seemed to convince the representative, and 8 messages and 11 days after my initial request, I was told I could request the records at $5/30 records. Yes, you read that right: they wanted to charge me to view the records. I thus replied:

I am NOT willing to pay for that. If you are unable to comply with my desire for transparency, then I shall terminate the contract and make sure to inform the media as well as the consumer institute of this conduct. As stated previously, I shall also consult with a lawyer. Charging consumers to view data that is obviously available is a strong indication that you do not want me to see it. I can't imaging why this would be the case other than the data being inconsistent with reality.

That worked, and I finally got an Excel sheet with my usage data, which allowed me to track down the depletion of my account: to lure customers in, they promise free calls to other Vodafone numbers for the first four weekends. There are three problems with that though:

  1. Having purchased my card on Saturday afternoon, I was annoyed to find out that the remaining 34 hours of that weekend would be counted as a whole weekend.

  2. They don't provide a way by which to find out whether a given number actually belongs to Vodafone or not. The 021 prefix is not enough of an indication.

  3. They don't actually tell you anywhere but the aforementioned horrific website that the addon has expired.

So thanks, Vodafone. You've lost a customer, who should have gone with 2degrees in the first place, who have much lower rates, even though their data coverage doesn't seem as good. I don't need data anyway.

I'll still insist on Vodafone providing the data in a Free format.

You can find more information about NZ mobile phone providers on the LCA2010 wiki page.

NP: Age Pryor: Shank's Pony