I recently moved to the UK from Greece. Having already a bad user experience from all three major carriers in Greece, Vodafone, Cosmote and Wind, I thought that things could not get worse in the UK, especially London. At least there is 4G already deployed and being a business hub, they would get the importance of speed.
My journey started with Vodafone. At the time there was an offer for unlimited data and a free device on PAYG, an offer that seemed irresistible at the time for my 3G-hungry life. Little had I know then. I remembered the first days of mobile phones in our lives, me extending my arm trying to get signal through Victoria, Oxford Str or Kensington. From time to time, although data was on and connected there was no data going back and forth. When connected, speed was so low that the data packet could have been carried on the back of a snail and still reach my phone faster. Tough luck I thought and I moved on to 3Three. I always loved this brand. It took me a few days to get completely disappointed by them. Not only they were experiencing the same Vodafone symptoms but to top it up, their signal went completely dead for a noticeable period of time.
Last but not least was the fail that goes by the name GiffGaff running over the O2 network. What’s not to hate? The community-driven help? The absence of contact points and hard to use website? The slower than death-by-spoon data speeds? At least they didn’t drop their signal for a long time as the others. They did, but not for that long. I would love to add to this list EE to compare data speeds but I didn’t have the chance: Their website is so bad that I couldn’t figure out what I needed to buy and how.
In fact, there was no carrier website that one could easily navigate and figure out the right product for him: Vodafone , Three, EE, O2, GiffGaff, Sky, Virgin it’s like they do it on purpose, they don’t want the customers to find their way in their website. The strange thing is that most of them know about it and their solution is Live Chat, send Instant Messages to an agent who is replying mostly like a bot with copy-paste answers. A complete nightmare.
Are you on High Street and need advice on what plan to choose? Just don’t walk in a EE store. Apart from waiting with no sympathy expressed by the staff, the representative will probably tell you only the market lines of the week, definitely not knowing what is on their online page or any really in depth details of the packages he is selling. Walking into a Phones4u store will probably make your day as you will laugh with the strangely apathetic staff and robotic reactions of representatives. Salvation may come from a Carephone Warehouse store, were at least people will notice you are there and try to help you. Beware: a lot of people feel the same way, meaning they can form long queues to torture the representatives. Waiting is inevitable.
Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy this whole experience. All these companies with millions of customers choose to make their life miserable or even mislead them, create frustration and spend more money on defensive customer service, money they get from the high prices paid by their customers. I have a suggestion for carriers: try to use your own systems, listen to your customers and respond. Not with workarounds, but with solutions which will actually save you money.