Get some brains, Vodafone whiners

Get some brains, Vodafone whiners

Summary: As much as I would love to sympathise with Vodafone customers, they just crack me up. And I'll explain why.

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commentary As much as I would love to sympathise with Vodafone customers, they just crack me up. And I'll explain why.

Face palm

(Doh image by Hobvias Sudoneighm, CC2.0)

Right now, there are thousands of them clogging internet forums, the company's customer service help line and even my own email inbox, with complaints that the brand's network is simply not up to scratch.

Some 9000 of these people are so frustrated by the fact that the handful of pocket change they're paying isn't earning them the nearly infinite mobile access they thought it would that they're prepared to take part in a class action lawsuit.

It's been pathetically obvious that the Vodafone mobile network hasn't been up to scratch for some time. In June last year, for example, analyst house IDC made the audacious claim that Optus' 3G mobile broadband was only 4 per cent behind Telstra's Next G offering across a range of criteria.

The claim was greeted by a howl of protest from readers who pointed out a range of areas where Optus' network was deficient — and IDC itself acknowledged Next G was on average 60 per cent faster. Yet here's the kicker: at the time, IDC didn't even bother mentioning Vodafone's network ... which was presumably somewhere far behind in their tests, a distant third.

As early as August 2008, CNET Australia reviewer Joseph Hanlon was warning readers to check Vodafone's network footprint carefully before committing to a mobile broadband contract. Then there's the fact that VHA continually refuses to disclose how fast its network actually is — as opposed to Telstra, which will tell you down to the last megabits per second.

Warning signs much?

Yes, yes, let me say it clearly. Vodafone customers, you were warned about this. You were told, years in advance, constantly, that the network you were signing up to was patchy, slow and full of holes.

And yet, despite the fact that Telstra has built a billion-dollar alternative (Next G), which many onlookers consider to be a visionary piece of engineering and possibly currently the best mobile phone network in the world, you were still determined to save $10 per month off your mobile bill and go for the cheaper option.

Now you're reaping the consequences of that choice.

Mind you, I don't want to say all Vodafone customers are whingers. For starters, many (including the founder of Vodafail himself) have already successfully exited their Vodafone contract at minimal cost and have gone elsewhere. These sensible souls have no doubt now been welcomed with open arms by Telstra's rapidly improving customer service team and are enjoying the benefits of a mobile network which ... just simply works — as insane as that may sound to a Vodafone customer.

But let's face it: the vast majority of the 9000 customers who have signed up for the class action lawsuit against the telco are probably still struggling along, refusing to quit their contract and getting frustrated every day when their network stalls or drops out.

To these people I say: you are butting your head against a brick wall.

It will take at least a year for Piper Alderman's class action lawsuit to generate any results, and even if it does, you will only get a proportion of your wasted contract money back, after the law firm and its backers take their (substantial) cut. Fighting the lawsuit will diminish Vodafone owner VHA's resources even further, and likely distract from planned network improvements. There is also no guarantee that the upgrades will have any real impact on any individual customer's situation.

Furthermore, VHA has already allowed some customers with demonstrable problems to quit their contract early without penalty. So how much more invitation do Vodafone customers need to stop whinging and take action? It's like the world is handing them a golden ticket to a free ride and they're hanging on for a double platinum cash-out pay-day millionaire bonanza.

Don't whinge about the company that is providing you with poor service, then sue them and, finally, demand the government do something about their security problems. It's an open, competitive market, people. Pick another provider. How hard can it be? Really, Vodafone customers, how long will it take you to realise you can go elsewhere?

And one last thing: this "class action lawsuit" business in general.

Let's face it: in reality, most Vodafone customers who have signed up for this instant cash grab will have spent less than $2000 in total — usually, far less — on Vodafone services over the past year or two. The only reason so many have signed up to the action is because it takes so little effort to do so — literally, 30 seconds to fill out an online form and then a little more time to respond to any further inquiries the law firm may choose to make.

The truth is, for Vodafone customers, participating in a class action lawsuit is essentially an attempt to validate what was their own poor choice of network provider to start with. These are people trying to prove to themselves that they weren't the only people taken in by Vodafone's marketing spin, that they actually made the right decision but were lied to and that above all: it's not their fault.

However, the truth is, Vodafone customers, it was your fault. You had, and still have, a choice.

Renai LeMay dumped Optus in mid-2010 after a series of network hitches and is now a loyal and satisfied customer of Telstra's Next G network.

Topics: Mobility, Networking, Telcos

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17 comments
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  • Cheap can be nasty, and frustrating but what can you expect from, all-you-can-talk, for a pittance. The golden rule 'You Pay for what you get.

    Forty years with Telstra, with not a worry in the world. Even, I hope during the current mindless fracas.
    Vasso Massonic
  • I have just lost any respect I had for your opinion. You have chosen to completely ignore the fact that Vodafone's network was previously very reliable, for customers that have been around for years this was not a clear and inevitable change, it was sudden and massively inconvenient change. By your poor logic I could go and find every negative thing said about Telstra (and you know as well as I do how much there is) and then next week if their network completely fell over then tell you you're an idiot for not predicting it. Where was your article predicting Vodafone would suffer these sudden performance issues? Hindsight is 20/20, and you're a fool to insult a significant portion of your readers based on it.
    DamienJ
  • The ACCC and the various laws it is supposed to police are there for a reason. Snake Oil salespeople should be taken to task - even if those snake oil salespeople are multi-million dollar telcos. Flashy adverts and premium signage in a store does not shirk responsibility for delivering a service that's even a fraction of market expectations. You can't shift the responsibility on the punters who signed up and who got whipped up in their marketing machine - that's why we have laws, and that's what the ACCC is supposed to watchdog for us.

    If I set up a stand in a shopping centre and sold a product that performed as poorly as Vodaphone's, I'd be in jail. Someone should be accountable for selling a practically non-existant service - and this is speaking from personal experience.
    vaggsau
  • Okay, so you dislike frivolous litegation, as is the case with the current class action attempt against Vodafone. I can understand that and see why you're annoyed at those Vodafone customers, but where do you get off saying that this was all inevitable and Vodafone customers' fault for not seeing it coming?

    As someone that was impressed with Telstra's coverage, but appalled at their data charges, monthly fees, and customer service levels... I can tell you I made the right call to switch at the time. I purchased a $2.00 pre-paid SIM from Vodafone, redirected my main number, chucked the VF SIM in my smart-phone, put some cash on it, and used it for a while to test the network. In my area there were a few places I dropped a bar or two from full signal, but mostly it was all good - so I signed up. then, for a period of around eight (8) months while my house was being built and Telstra was installing a phone line, this Vodafone SIM was my only phone and boardband internet connection (tethered smartphone), and it worked brilliantly. Honestly.

    The problems with the VF network were sudden, unexpected, and struck around seven (7) months ago. Signals got lower, distortion on calls got worse, drop-outs began, 3G speeds slowed, regional data services ground to a halt, calls started to drop out (or not be received), etc, etc. Essentially, the whole network went belly up. If you were trying to run a business with these services, I can understand the frustrations and why people would want to do more than complain. While the network is getting better again, it doesn't compare to the service I was receiving less than twelve (12) months ago.

    As for Telstra being "better", are you serious? I was paying $60.00 a month on Telstra, getting $60.00 worth of calls and a whopping 5MB of data included at some 15c per kilobyte charged in 1MB blocks (and with massive excess charges). I switched to paying $69.00 (including the purchase of a new smartphone) which includes $450.00 of calls, free calss to my wife's phone, and 1GB of data (with no charge for tethering). Was Telstra really the best option for me? Am I silly for wanting a better deal?

    And finally - you just try to get out of a contract at the moment. The ACCC doesn't have your back, the VF customer lines are choked (will wait an hour or more, and will likely get cut off), the online email/help is disabled due to "technical difficulties". There is no way to even contact them to ASK for an end to the contract.

    This opinion piece is a troll. if not, you are an idiot.
    NKX
  • You get what you pay for, deal with it. Its a free market, and people are already able to get out of the contract (and are doing so), so stop crying.

    Go to Telstra and have a perfectly reliable network, or go to Optus (or one of their resellers like Virgin) who have a half decent network and a not too bad price

    Also I am pretty damn sure VHA has more then 9000 customers
    deteego
  • Telstra? I had been with Optus for many years and thought I'd give Telstra a go when the iPhone 4 came in. Never got a call back ... nothing ... so sorry, Telstra still stinks as far as customer service goes. I do like their Next G which is what my iPad and laptop modem is on. But I did all that online with no input from Telstra 'people'.
    'Class Action' is BS. If you don't like the service or they fail to deliver, then leave and go to a network/provider that works.
    ogsplash
  • Hmm, I chose Vodafone, I got what I deserved coverage. Years ago now I tried both Optus and Telstra and they had no coverage in my house. I went with Vodafone (prepaid) and I had good coverage I also did some traveling back then in the outback and had fantastic coverage considering so I've always been reasonably happy. It has only been in the last 6 months that telstra has built a new mobile antenna to improve coverage in my area so I'd say I made the right choice.

    Note though I don't use 3G so I've been less impacted by Vodafone problems than some may have been. I noticed the odd delayed text message a while back, and the odd reception issue but that was about the worst of it. I'm not paying much so I'm not complaining much.

    Others mileage my vary, while I understand the Renai LeMay dislike of litigation, I hate that kind of action myself. Vodafone's network hasn't always been terrible and for me still suits the purpose. I do believe he may be payed too much to write for zdnet with the prices telstra is known for charging. If you want caviar then sure go with Telstra and pay for it. I'm happy for a bit of bread and jam to get me through the day.
    deonast
  • Wow! - what a smug, ignorant individual. Renai LeMay sure knows how to alienate a readership. And what a stunning example of unobjective journalism. So, it's all about Renai, huh, and how he predicted (at least in his own small mind) the collapse of Vodafone's service capability eons ago when the internet was just a glimmer in a couple of pairs of eyes. FYI, Renai, when I chose to move from Telstra to Vodafone, their service was way better than Telstra Bigpond, they gave me 6 times the data allowance for half the cost, and the service was significantly faster than similarly priced Telstra Bigpond plans. And it worked perfectly well. So, until Vodafone's network started failing to deliver on it's agreed service levels, all was good.
    Again, either Renai has never tried to exit a current plan contract, or he abuses the clout he has as a public figure and technology commentator - it took me nearly nine months of constant service complaints and demands for rectification of service levels to convince Vodafone to release me from their contract. Rule of thumb, Renai - an ISP experiencing difficulties fights even harder to maintain its revenue stream than one performing successfully.
    Finally, Renai lies to us. He tells, with great self-satisfaction, how he left Optus and is now a happy and loyal Telstra customer. Well, happy he may be, but loyal ? Hell, he just admitted to defecting from Optus. Clearly, Renai is as much after the best deal as the rest of us. Telstra Bigpond may be more competitive now, but during the reign of the mexican bandido, Telstra was an arrogant and intransigent corporation. I had Telstra services for around thirty years, and remained with them despite the times they cut off my land line and mobile services because their clerks failed to correctly update my changes of billing address, despite the times they billed me incorrectly, and despite the times they clearly demonstrated by poor customer service and outright rudeness that my long history as a client was not valued by the company or its staff (now that's loyalty, Renai). It wasn't until Telstra tried to coerce me (by use of various agencies and illegal threats regarding credit rating impairment and prosecution) into paying amounts that were in fact system errors in their accounts, instead of reconciling their client ledger, that I left them for a less stressful and belligerent ISP.
    Final word - Renia, you have no credibility as an objective journalist. You're just a d***head with access to a keyboard and a public space to regularly post your opinionated sputum. If this offends you, well, it's just a personal response to your very personal and unobjective commentary.
    zeudberg
  • How wrong you are zeudberg. It prompted Vodafone into very expensive remedial measures and about time too.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/vodafone-hutchison-answers-calls-for-upgrade/story-e6frg8zx-1225985217887
    Vasso Massonic
  • Didn't VHA actually admit that they only started to have network issues when the tried to upgrade and integrate their infrastructure, u sanctimonious ****!
    dtonna
  • Well sorry I have never heard of you but now that I have I will make sure I don't read anything you write again. What a smug patronising jerk. I have had an unlimited calls and texts plan with 2gb download for almost 2 years for $114 per month. Great deal. With no problems with anything. It may be your job to be studying everything in the media regarding every carrier on a daily basis for years but it is not mine. And I will make sure any information I obtain from this point on will not come from YOU!!
    amanda gc
  • You Renai are a douche bag of the highest order. I hope you fall off your high horse and break your neck!

    I pay $69 a month to Vodafail, hardly a "handful of pocket change" as you lightly put it. When I joined up with Vodafone their network was a lot better than it is now. For $69 I should be able to at least be able to make a phone call but I can't, not inside at home because the coverage is so poor. I have to go out side to get decent reception. Before I joined I checked their coverage map and I'm well withing their coverage so it shouldn't be an issue.

    Recently I have had messages and voice mails delivered and received hours after I send them. And it's occurring more regularly.

    I had to have my phone fixed and it took them 6+ weeks to replace my phone and even then they only gave me a refurbished phone. When I dropped my phone off at a Vodafone store they didn't have any loan phones to give me so I had to buy a phone ($50 odd for their cheapest nastiest phone) since I was kind enough to give my phone to a friend who was in need of a phone, ergo I didn't have a spare phone nor did anyone in my family or anyone I know.

    But that's ok I'm not going to whinge and whine about it, I'm going to use it as ammunition to hopefully get out of my contract. If that fails there is always other options like the TIO.

    I feel bad for Queenslanders who are with Vodafail and are caught up in the floods. Their mobile may be their only contact to the outside world if it wasn't washed away, and if that doesn't work they are totally isolated. Did you even for a split second think about that Renai? Hmm? Did you? Probably not, you would probably say it's their own fault and they should be with Telstra. All you can do is point, laugh and insult people.
    Jingles-8366c
  • I don't think Renai is a douche or whatever, but I really don't think this is his finest article. Renai, you seem really worked up about this and I think you should calm down and try to see things from other peoples' points of view. The only articles you cited to prove that Vodafone users were "told in advance" were from ZDNet, a specialist and very technical ICT-industry specific website. Normal people do not read ICT industry publications - they watch the news and read the newspaper and also have a right to expect a certain level of fair trading as regulated by the government. Advocate free markets all you like, but the mechanism in this country preventing people being ripped off by the companies they do business with is the state Departments of Fair Trading/etc. For people to pay money to a large, stable, profitable well-known company and get bummed for it is something they don't expect and something that shouldn't be allowed to happen.
    ProssAZ
  • The main point of (this) article is that most people are whining about the service when
    1. It was obvious that this was going to happen
    2. Don't do anything about it (and continue to whine)

    Both of those are true

    We live in a free market, and if the (under) service that vodaphone has been providing you is so extreme, you can get out of your contract by complaining to the TIO (which many people have done) and move to another provider. However don't expect VHA to magically revive their network overnight, and all of the people whining "Vodaphone fix their network" blah blah are the ones that as the article points out, should get some brains

    Matter of fact is, as has been stated numerous times before, this is a free market. If VHA was some monopoly and you could only get a service through them, then it would be another matter entirely, but this is not the case. There are plenty of other mobile providers out there, with their ups and downs
    deteego
  • Renai may have been a bit too critical in his language and in the process offended some VHA users, but I agree with the gist of what he is saying.
    I have been with 3/Hutchinson since the first few months that they launched, but had been getting more and more drop outs and clients not being able to call me at my office, which is only minutes from Adelaide's CBD. When there is a big event at the nearby showgrounds, I wouldn't be able to make or receive calls for most of the day.
    Their cheaper plans were in fact costing me money, so I switched from 3 to Telstra earlier this year. They have not been faultless in their billing, but they fixed it with 1 call. And no coverage issues.
    I'd hate Australia to become as litigious as the USA. Law Firms are not charities, and they organise class action suits because of the big slice of $$$ that they will get from it. Win or lose, a law suit is unlikely to make VHA spend any more on customer service or their network capacity than they plan to already.
    It's a free market - even VHA users on contract should have enough grounds to exit early and move to a better network, rather than ask for a pound of flesh.
    IMHO Telstra has improved siginificantly since Thodey took the reins, and whilst not perfect, is worth considering.
    adrian@...
  • The argument that "you get what you pay for" with telecoms is crap.
    Not all new customers as as erudite as the correspondents here. For years Telcos have extracted money from "customers" whom they disdainfully regard as cash cows. If something is cheaper to buy it still needs to meet the "fitness for purpose" test and the advertised claims. There is a fix for all Telcos.
    They provide a coverage map when signing up new customers. Customer can then be said to be informed. Use that as the Telco's commitment to "fitness for purpose".
    If they fail to meet that commitment they relinquish the contract termination fee.
    If we are to accept mobile phone communications as an integral part of our infrastucture then their needs to be regulation imposing a baseline of service delivery. That, with some healthy competition enabling mobility to freely change providers will serve the punters better.
    WSF
  • Vodafone, too, advises customers to improve themselves.
    http://blog.vodafone.com.au/blog/news/how-to-tips-to-exercise-your-brain-better-part-2/
    cubeover