I recently wrote about my abysmal experience with Vodafone. In the comments for the blog, a Vodafone customer service representative called Mat posted, telling me to get in touch if I had any more problems. Well, as nice as it was of Mat to make the offer, what do you do if you're not a journalist on the UK's biggest technology site?
As well as ranting here, I sent an email to customer service via Vodafone's laughable online account page. The response I got was pretty much the same: "We're really sorry for being useless, but it doesn't happen to anyone else. Honest." I'm paraphrasing there, but frankly, it doesn't wash with me. Nor does the lack of apology for being kept stuck in Vodafone's telephone system for over an hour and a half -- 20 minutes of which I actually spent thinking I was going to speak to the customer service rep again.
I also feel I should point out that by refusing to give me a PAC within 48 hours, Vodafone was in breach of the Ofcom code. The telecoms watchdog -- which to be fair, I'm no fan of either -- states that a mobile phone company must either provide you with a PAC within two days or a reason it won't give you one (say, if you had outstanding debt). Vodafone gave me neither of these.
It's also quite interesting that Ofcom accepts there can be problems with obtaining a PAC from the company you're trying to leave. In Europe, the system operates in the opposite way: customers request that their new phone company handle the transfer, and they don't need to deal with their old provider at all. This is far more sensible, because your old network has very little incentive to facilitate your departure, and everything to gain from making it nearly impossible. In its consultation, Ofcom discovered that 53 per cent of people who had ported their number would prefer a recipient-led transfer, which sounds like a majority to me.
I've no doubt some people never leave Vodafone because getting a PAC is just too much hassle and that can really only benefit its profits. So what do I suggest? Ofcom looked at a system that would require the release of a PAC much quicker -- within two hours in fact -- but one mobile phone company objected. Can you guess who that was?
Ignoring the objections from those with a vested interest, I can't help but wonder why it isn't instant. When you're out of contract, with your bills all paid, why not call up and get a PAC straight away? It could even be handled online, to save the cost of phone calls.