Mobile Phone Contract Renewals
(Yes it’s another rant about a business!). It’s a bit of a scam really in my opinion. It depends on whether you phone them, or if they phone you, and who you speak to. That’s what it seems like. I’ve been a customer of Vodaphone’s for the past 6 years, spending around £900 per contract (18 months in recent years). When I worked abroad I’d often spend a few hundred a month, once I topped £400 for the month. Okay, so it may not be much to a company like Vodaphone, but a 6 year old customer spending more than the average individual consumer is surely who Vodaphone should be wanting to please? Clearly not.
Note whilst this is my experience with Vodaphone, I believe it happens with all the main mobile phone operators, so this isn’t a rant against Vodaphone just against them as a whole!
Last month I called Vodaphone about my contract renewal. I’d set my sights on a Nokia N95 telephone. I’ve had an N73 for the past 18 months and whilst it’s a great phone, it’s lacked wireless connectivity which would be useful to me. The N95 has that, plus an even better camera plus flash (the N73 has flash too) and numerous other handy features. On speaking to the upgrades team I asked about getting this phone. The guy I spoke to first tried putting me off it, saying how it broke a lot, I was told that about the N73 and had no problems there, so I shrugged them off. Then he told me it would cost as the phone wasn’t cheap to buy. Although I doubt Vodaphone pay the high street prices that we’d have to pay as individuals. Okay, I appreciate a small fee, despite paying them over £900 for the last 18 months contract. He offered me a 24 month contract at £30 a month (I currently pay £35) and the phone would cost me £80. 24 months is a bit longer than I’d want to sign up for, 18 months is long enough really, so I said I’d go think about it. I then tried phoning again and got someone else, who offered me the same contract that I was on and the N95 for £160. I asked why new customers got it for free and existing customers had to pay – ‘oh it’s because the phone is quite expensive to buy’. But hang on, a lot of these new customers would pay the same as I pay, get the phone for free and probably leave once their contract was up and go get the next free phone elsewhere. That didn’t make a difference, I couldn’t get the N95 without paying over £100. Note, I was never offered a 24 month contract second time around.
Then she asked me why I wanted it, which I replied for the wireless feature, GPS and decent camera. She offered me the E65 for free, with no changes to my contract. As I’m really not very good at arguing my point (I’m a wuss!) and the camera wasn’t so important (the E65 has a 2MP camera, no flash), I agreed, possibly because I figured there was no chance of getting the N95 and I was pretty tired and stressed with all the work I had on at the time.
Fast forward to last week, when Dave called about his upgrade. He’s also with Vodaphone, been on the same contract as I have for the last 18 months and has been with them for 3 years. He got a little further from the upgrades to the promotions department trying to get the N95 but they told him no, despite him threatening to leave and go elsewhere where he could get the phone for free. So he was all intent on moving elsewhere, then today he got a call from the upgrade team. He told them he’d already tried upgrading but was told he couldn’t get the phone he wanted so he was planning to leave. He told the person that he wanted the N95 and about 5 minutes he hung up saying he had the phone on its way, he’s got the first 2 months line rental at half price, his monthly minutes have been increased by 20%, he’s been given unlimited SMS messages, plus he has another feature which got taken away from me (kind of like unlimited landline calls, but not quite). He didn’t even have to argue much for the phone and the rest was just given to him on a plate.
Clearly my 6 years of customer history and over £6000 in bills means nothing to them, yet someone who’s been there just 3 years and paid out maybe £2000 in bills does. It’s nice to know how the companies you’re loyal to treat you in return. I had no change or improvements to my contract and the phone I got was a sideways move, not an improvement. I’ve lost features that the N73 had, and gained features. The N95 puts the features from both together.
So yes, it’s a big scam. It depends on who you speak to, whether they call you or you call them, and how much of a good mood they’re in no doubt. Being a long term, good paying customer means absolutely nothing to them I guess, and I’m sure the same goes on throughout the mobile phone industry. I think I may move my business elsewhere in 18 months, shame I can’t do it now.