Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Rachel Rant

Dear Three (or 3 if you prefer),

Your business practices make me sad but mostly they're making me mad. They're unethical and I'd be surprised if they're legal. When my husband paid for an unlocking code so that he could use his phone internationally, the technical advice provided by your company was so unprofessional it resulted in the phone locking up and the phone refusing to recognize any SIM card.

From the initial complaint there were several failures from 3's technical support. They failed to follow through and return calls as they said they would. Promises that the issue would be "escalated" left my husband with no mobile phone during a business trip that cost his company thousands of dollars to arrange for him.

Upon his return here to the UK, my husband diligently continued to work with 3 to resolve the issue with his phone which was no longer functioning. There continued to be unfulfilled technical support  returned phone calls and "escalations".  We estimate about 25 hours have been spent either on the phone with "3's" technical department, the customer complaints department, the online website, or in the store we purchased the phone from within the initial 2 weeks of this incident. We have been jerked around day after day with promises of returned phone calls, instructions to take the phone to the 3 store, to pick up a loaner phone and ship my husbands phone in for repairs, only to be told once at the store - not to send it in. We were told it'd be faster if it was picked up from our house because there are only 2 pick ups from the store per week. The company doesn't provide a loaner phone to someone if they've shipped their phone in for repair from their home. They only provide a loaner phone if you send your phone in for repair from the store. My husband's job requires some sort of cell phone.  The sales representative in the store phoned the technical support team in regards to the situation. They also discouraged us from turning his phone in to be shipped off for repairs at that time because we should be receiving a phone call within the next 24 hours that would hopefully resolve the issue. Needless to say, we didn't receive that phone call so we phoned 3....again.

There was no resolution given and they were now saying that our situation was going to have to go through yet ANOTHER escalation process to customer complaints. We were informed this process could take up to 10 days. That's dandy but it still didn't provide the necessary phone for my husband's work.

For the rest of the week my husband went about playing phone tag with 3. He missed one of these phone calls as he was already in the middle of a phone call with his employer. Shocking isn't it? Someone actually having to work and earn the money to pay to have the phone service and a phone, missing one attempt to reach them. Subsequently, they never followed through with a return phone call. That landed us once again, in the store where we purchased our phones and signed up for service with 3.

We decided to bite the bullet, to accept the loaner phone that lacks every single feature my husband needs in order to do his job even though we have to pay a 30 gbp deposit fee for it, and to accept that we're now looking at him not having the tool and services he's paying for, for about a month's time. And somehow, this company is comfortable justifying no refund for his monthly service.

Everyone, meet Dave:

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Mr. David Dyson, if your responsibilities include "a focus on improving customer experience" you're failing. You're not failing just a little bit. You're failing on a massive scale. Our customer experience is costing you 2 of our monthly service plans as soon as possible since they're not under contract. I can promise you, that as soon as our other contracts are complete, you'll be losing the rest. It is also costing you some bad press here. I have no problem with making a public outcry and calling "foul!" when a company is happy leaving their customers feeling ripped off. Ultimately, true power lies in the hands of the consumers. It's up to us to demand that companies behave more ethically in order to stay in business  so I'm doing my part here.

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Mr. David Dyson, I'd like to challenge you to go without any mobile phone and to try and meet your tech heavy job requirements for 2 weeks. I'd then like to invite you to try using the S2 Skypephone that your company provides as a loaner phone to conduct your business dealings for a further 2 weeks. Obviously, as per your companies policy which was quoted to us today by your financial department, you will be required to pay for your regular monthly service and not expect any sort of refund. 

I can only suppose this policy is to protect 3's bottom line. I'm just an average person and no lawyer but demanding payment for a service that isn't being provided would seem like a breach of contract. Your complaints process is one of the most convoluted inefficient experiences I've ever had the displeasure of going through and each time I think we're through the worst of it, it seems like 3 finds yet another opportunity to slap us in the face. 

Luckily, I'm not just a complainer. I come bearing some simple solutions to help prevent a similar situation happening to other customers and overall "improving customer experiences." 

1st. Establish a more concrete method of protecting your company and customers when dealing with unlocking codes. It's as simple as sending an e-mail to the customers chosen e-mail address or if there's some legal issue with sending it electronically, send it through the post, registered. In that letter/e-mail, include important instructions like "Do not attempt to enter this unlock code more than once. Your phone may be irrevocably locked if you disregard this warning." You could even get crazy with it and write it in bolded text in a bright color to really draw customers attention to it. 

2nd. Accept the fact that your business employs human beings which are flawed and that it sells products to other human beings that are also inherently flawed. Therefore, there is in all likelihood going to be some incident in which one of them somewhere is going to make a mistake. You obviously need to establish a more efficient protocol with Samsung (the manufacturer of my husbands phone) in which to rectify these situations. Not having a more effective solution is a massive time waster not just to your customers but to your employees as well. 

3rd. If there is an unfortunate amount of time that lapses where the customer is dealing with the technical department and they're unable to use their phone, do the right thing, refund their money, and build some brand loyalty. It goes a long way. 

4th. If all else fails, offer the customer a comparable loaner phone. Even if that means the customer has to give a larger deposit that they'll receive back when they return the phone, at least then their jobs and daily routines may be disrupted as little as possible which again, builds brand loyalty. In a time when customers have many companies to chose from, it's probably wisest to try and entice customers to stay. 


  1. :( I feel like phone companies come in right under credit card companies. There are so few out there, they feel like they can just jerk you around. My mom is actually having an issue with ATT right now over our home line. All she wants to do is be added to the account along with my dad. They're getting older and should he die for some reason, we would like to circumvent the hassle of having to close one account and start up another just to keep a landline. They're telling her that to add her first name to the account she will have to go through a background and credit check. I'm like, seriously? It's a phone, not a gun.

  2. Personally, I'm sick of any company feeling like they have consumers over a barrel. I think it's disgusting that some of these companies utilize every trick in the book to discourage people from standing up for their rights and demanding a fair shake for their money. I think anyone with any business sense should see these scenarios as a personal invite to open up shop and provide a service that people feel like they can trust. Customers would flock to them. They would take down every carrier that didn't operate with above board ethics simply by being an ethical company. I find it incredibly bizarre that ATT want to run a background and credit check to add your mom on a pre-existing account. Just weird. I wish we could put them through a similar process. I wonder how they would feel if the shoe was on the other foot. If they had to go through such a stringent screening process before being allowed to provide a service for people they might be just a bit better behaved and try to retain their customers.

  3. chillairandperfumeMarch 21, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    Yikes. So sorry to hear about this, girl. There is nothing more maddening than receiving poor service, especially in more important matters. Beyond that, this is just terrible business. You can't be the only one who's had such a negative experience with 3. I hope they're held accountable..

  4. We fully intend to hold them accountable as far as we're capable of. We've already looked into how to file a complaint with the Ombudsman Services: Communications organization and other government departments if needed. The most ridiculous part of this, in my humble opinion, is that I even HAVE to go to these lengths to get this company to adhere to a reasonable standard. The long and short of it is that this company has lead my husband on one long goose chase all the while leaving him without any phone or service which he's paying for. I'm not an expert but I'm pretty sure that it's unreasonable to expect payment for services not rendered. The official complaints process is SO long and outrageous the average consumer would be highly unmotivated to try and pursue it. That shouldn't even be allowable. Hopefully, if enough people are motivated to complain about this type of poor service by this company further action will be taken by one of the government agencies, like the OFT, to protect consumers. Thanks for taking the time to read and sound off Hannah!

  5. Thank you for reading and sharing your experience with me Nik! After reading all about it I think it might be quicker and simpler to simply write a letter requesting the cancellations I want via registered mail. I have very little to no faith left in 3 and I haven't been jerked around as much as you were it seems. We still haven't received a repaired phone so I'm waiting to see how that resolves its self as well. Wish us luck!

  6. Dave just looks like a tool. I don't like him or what he did in the entire scenario. The company is a mess and needs to refocus on their mission to serve customers.