Iain: Upgrading hell


This is a wider subject than just the mobile industry in the UK and I believe bad, or at best, average service is embedded in the culture (psyche) of the population. This is even more obvious when a comparison is drawn with other countries. In the United States for example, the customer-facing service operators in the catering trades (waiters to you and me) have a pride in their job, to the extent that there often seems to be a competition going on for the position of ‘Best Waiter’!

On the continent, people seem to take a certain amount of pride in even the most menial of jobs in an attempt to give the customer a good experience!

Let me use an example of our industry to illustrate this. I recently required an upgrade on my handset. I was well outside the minimum term of my 18-month contract. I rang the network involved and got through (relatively quickly) to the upgrade department. I explained what handset I wanted and I was asked for a contribution of £170 to obtain this particular phone. I said I thought that was a bit steep and could I speak to someone who could assist me more to reduce the price.

I also explained that I was a ‘high user’ (three figures a month) and that if I was a new customer I could walk into one of their network shops, sign up for a 18-month contract and get this phone free of charge. Yes, came the almost inevitable reply, that offer is for NEW customers only! This was, I explained, daft! They would treat a brand new person off the street, with no payment history, BETTER than someone who has had an account for 15 years, paid by direct debit, and never defaulted. Where was the logic?

To cut a long story short, I got the handset for a fraction of the original price and I am happy. Except for the sour taste left by the experience of thinking they were trying to screw me for as much cash as possible if they could!

Come on guys, is this charade really necessary?? Let’s give good service the FIRST time that customers ask!

Boy, I am glad I got that off my chest.