Can on a String


I’d just like to say that Vodafone suck.

Well OK, maybe I suck a bit as well. But the end result is a big ball of suck which is rather pissing me off, and as Vodafone are the bigger target I’m going to blame them.

A while back, after a dinner date with a friend was almost totally screwed up by the fact that I wasn’t contactable, I reluctantly bought a mobile phone. I went with Vodafone for reasons that I can’t quite remember, but seemed sensible at the time, and until recently have had absolutely no problems with them. But a while back my credit card expired, and a couple of weeks after that my phone ran out of prepaid credit…

To use a credit card to top up your Vodafone prepaid credit, the card has to be registered with Vodafone. No problem, except that it’s apparently impossible to register a new credit card when you’re out of credit. Making a call – even one to a Vodafone support number – on a creditless handset diverts you into Vodafone’s recharge system, from which it is completely impossible to get to any option allowing you to register a new credit card. Attempts to do so throw you into an endless loop of account options, the only way to break out of which is to admit defeat and hang up.

After dealing with this nightmare a few times I had the bright idea of calling customer support from my landline. This worked up to a point – the point where I was put through to an operator with an accent so thick I could barely understand a word he said (I think he might have been a Romanian who was taught English by a native Irish Gaelic speaker who learnt the language from Billy Conolly DVDs).

He asked me a series of questions, starting with the basic name, date of birth and address. Then he asked me for my PIN number. Now, sure, this is something I really should know, but I don’t – which is the reason I was calling up customer support rather than going online to register my credit card number in the first place.

This wasn’t a problem, because there were a bunch of other questions he could ask to confirm that I’m who I said I was. For instance what “fodo-eyed” did I use to register the sim card? After some backing and forthing I figured out he meant “photo id” and told him I used my passport.

He checked his computer and said sorry but I didn’t use my passport – which came as quite a surprise to me since it’s the only photo id I possess.

But that was OK, because there were other questions he could ask. Like what were the last three numbers I called? I checked my handset and discovered they were to my parents, and to Vodafone’s support number. He checked his computer.

No, apparently those weren’t the last three numbers I called.

But that was OK, because he could instead ask me what plan I was on. I said I had no idea but it was the basic prepaid one. How much did I pay the last time I recharged? I said I thought it was about $30. How much credit did I get from that? I said about $100. And when did I last recharge? I said I thought it was some time in August.

Apparently none of that matched with my account. But that was OK because there was one more question he could ask. He brought it up on his computer…

…and then couldn’t ask it because the computer wouldn’t tell him what it was.

Having exhausted all his options he said the only thing I could do was to take the handset and some photo ID into a Vodafone shop and they could register my new credit card there.

Fantastic. So I now have to drag myself in to a Vodafone store and produce identification just so I can pay them money. Hooray!

Honestly. I’d be better off with a can on a string.

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