Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vodafone And The Goddess Elena

This is going to be a story "in a very large nutshell."

We had internet and phone (landline and mobile) services through Vodafone when we lived in Sevilla (click here if you're interested in reading a little about that disaster). When we moved to Fuengirola, we decided to switch to Telefonica/Movistar only because we could also bundle a good television/movie service into the package. Following is the truly condensed version of what ensued.

THE WORLD'S LARGEST NUTSHELL.
(THANKS TO WIKIPEDIA FOR THIS IMAGE OF A SEA COCONUT.)

  • In February 2013, I cancelled— in-person and via FAX — our Vodafone service in Sevilla.
  • We arrived in Fuengirola and signed up with Movistar. I confirmed our cancellation with Vodafone.
  • Six weeks later, we noticed Vodafone was still pulling money from our bank account.
  • I finally got someone on the phone who said it was obviously their mistake and we received a full refund (at this point for 3 months of charges). 
  • The following month, Vodafone began charging us again.
  • We tried phoning but were told we needed to log in with our "Mi Vodafone" account. 
    • When we tried to do so, we were disconnected because: "You do not have an account with Vodafone." 
  • We tried their website. Same result.
  • So, we emailed another office, explaining in detail the problem and why we could not log in to Mi Vodafone.
    • The response? "Please go to our website and log in using Mi Vodafone."
  • We realized that we could simply block Vodafone from pulling money from our account. Duh!
  • Three months later, I received a text from Vodafone saying we owed them 50+ euros.
  • We tried contacting them, but were told we didn't have an account. Yes, we know!!!
  • I posted a message on Vodafone's facebook page. 
    • I received a response telling me to send the details in a private message on another Vodafone facebook page.
      • After I did, someone wrote back to say we owed 50+ euros.
  • I went to the Vodafone store. The rep looked up our record and said it was clearly their error. She told me to resend the original FAX from last year as proof. I should hear from them in 4 days or come back to the store.
  • Three days later, Vodafone called and told me we owed 50+ euros. 
    • They had no record of anything else. I was asked to FAX a copy of our first bill from Movistar. I did so.
    • The next day, I received a call from a collection agency. (We owed Vodafone 50+ euros.)
  • I went back to the store. The embarrassed rep said I should go to City Hall and file a complaint against Vodafone — her employer. 
  • There's only so much I can accomplish with my unpolished and limited Spanish. Our friend Elena — or as she will forever now be known, The Goddess Elena — came to the rescue. Elena loves a good fight and had been offering for months to step in. 
    • Elena spent an hour on the phone (repeating the story to 12 different people). She even received a case number. Elena was told to have me FAX (again) my first Movistar bill and that Elena should then call in two days. (Elena then taught me a really, really bad Spanish word.)
    • Two days later, I received a call from the collection agency. Did you know we owe 50+ euros?
      • Elena called Vodafone and was told there was no record of any of our conversations. She was insistent (and had a case number) and finally seemed to have success.
  • Tuesday night I received two texts:
    • The first told me my complaint was legitimate and my refund was approved. Yes!!! 
    • They would deduct the money we owe them. We don't owe any money!!! 
    • The second text said I would receive a brief survey in a day or two to rate them on their service and also on this [unknown] rep's personal management of my account. She would be grateful if I would share my thoughts.  Oh, no she would not!!!
  • I sent the texts to Elena. She called Vodafone this morning. 
    • I then received a text saying the entire refund would be in our bank account within 10 days. But, wait! There's more!
      • A second message arrived telling me our internet service has been reinstated with apologies for the inconvenience. But we don't want ANY service!!!
        • Then a third message arrived, telling me if we don't sign a contract we will be charged 2.90 euros a day for internet.

San Geraldo told Elena we owe her dinner. 

I told Elena we owe her a house in the country. 

Elena said, it's still not over, but she would prefer a house on the beach. 


To Vodafone:


The sound of the word "Vodafone" always makes me think of Paul Simon's song, "Kodachrome." Vodafone, however, does not make me "think all the world's a sunny day."

30 comments:

  1. I can't wait to visit Elena at her new beach house.

    Just sayin'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob:
      I'm sure Elena would welcome you with open arms... the moment we bought her that beach house.

      Delete
    2. Neither can I!

      Delete
    3. Oh, Tynan, I'm pretty sure she'll give you your own key (PRETTY sure).

      Delete
  2. We have had similar experiences with German Avis. All I can say is that I feel your pain…
    Kirk

    PS
    I think Elena will require a Beach Palace rather than a house. That is what we felt that we owed our German version of Elena, after our latest Avis fiasco...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kirk:
      We've never asked a friend to step in for us with any of our issues here, no matter the language barrier. This just became too much. Elena had been offering for months and we finally threw up our hands. We never, ever would have gotten anywhere on this without her. These service providers are a nightmare all over the world. We had a difficult enough time with them in the United States in our native language. Isn't it great to have good (and oh so generous) friends?!?

      Delete
  3. Vodafone seems not reliable internet provider. But in my country providers are not so good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosia:
      Name any provider anywhere in the world and there will be horror stories. Such a shame.

      Delete
  4. OMG! what a nightmare, Mitchell!
    Now you have two saints in your midst: Santa Elena and San Geraldo. You keep great company!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim:
      San Geraldo was a bit concerned when I started referring to Elena as The Goddess Elena. He asked me if goddesses trumped saints. (I said, "Of course not," and he believed me.)

      Delete
  5. Some things work the same the world over. Vodaphone got into terrible trouble in Australia with its poor service and coverage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew:
      You are so right. We've had a good experience here in Fuengirola with Movistar. But they were such a disaster in Sevilla, that we couldn't even get a contract completed, which is how we ended up with Vodafone. My experience with Vodafone in Sevilla after the contract was signed was awful and they continue to live down to their reputation. And, if you were to ask me if I would recommend any internet service provider I ever used in the US, I would tell you "no."

      Delete
  6. ¡Todo este asunto es increíble! Of course, I could tell you stories about [insert name of almost any American provider]! They would not be as insane as yours, however, nor so wittily told.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael:
      It's a sad truth that bad service from an internet provider is no surprise. This (still unresolved) idiocy has been my worst experience far --- although I'm sure others could share far worse stories.

      Delete
  7. Sounds like a nightmare. Good thing you had Elena to helps you out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stephen:
      If not for Elena, I was having serious thoughts of throwing in the towel (and losing 300 euros)!

      Delete
  8. What they said :)

    Seriously, oh my HEAVENS! My first thoughts were, "He is dealing with all this IN SPANISH!?" I bowed my head in respect. Thanks heavens, though, that you had Elena to step in to continue the fight. Amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judy:
      I finally realized I didn't really know how to swear in Spanish. Elena is an expert... but don't tell her I told you.

      Delete
  9. Elena sounds like my kind of gal!

    Things like this are such a pain. I've had situations where I've been charged for the same thing three times over. It's SO EASY for them to take money out of your account and SO HARD for them to put it back. Funny how that works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle:
      Elena is a power-house (and a sweetheart), a truly generous human being. It was like dealing with being from another planet (even for Elena). Out of all the people we've all spoken with, only three were able to look at our records and say, "This is obviously Vodafone's error." Elena even spoke to one person who said she didn't have access to our records. Elena was stunned and asked "why." "Oh, we're not allowed," was the response. After THAT conversation was when Elena taught me the really good(bad) word.

      Delete
  10. Ouch Mitchell! What a horrid company, thank goodness for your cool head and Elena's sainthood.
    Elena deserves a palace on the beach, and you deserve chocolate. Eat it for me. =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jacqueline:
      On top of it all, Elena bought ME chocolate the other day. A GODDESS!!! (Oh, I of course didn't want it but I ate for YOU just the same.)

      Delete
  11. So frustrating when something like this goes on and on and on....Elena is a wonderful friend! But what is wrong with vodaphone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristi:
      Vodafone has been appalling. As far as I'm concerned, there's no excuse for this level of incompetence and mismanagement. As for Elena, this is above and beyond the call of friendship.

      Delete
  12. Sounds a bit like our phone problems here... we're less than 5 miles from Canada... depending on ???, our phone use can bounce off Canadian towers making our USA calls international. And at the international rate! Takes us months to get it sorted out. UGH! At least it's all in English...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon:
      I never thought of that overlapping signals problem. Ugh!

      Delete
  13. Mitch. I am overwhelmed by the comments. I would do it all over again. Just for you two because you are the best people we have met for a long long time, trust me. And I don´t know what I am going to do not meeting you for coffee or "whatever" for the next two weeks!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Goddess Elena:
      So glad you get to see what people are saying. We are so grateful to have you as friends! As for those two weeks, just come with us!

      Delete
    2. We can send the kids instead

      Delete
    3. Tynan:
      We would but we know how much you'd miss them.

      Delete

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