Real life

My Orwellian battle with Vodafone

29 January 2022

9:00 AM

29 January 2022

9:00 AM

After launching an investigation into my missing phone, Vodafone informed me it could not deal with me any further until I went through a series of checks to prove that I was who I said I was.

I then became locked in an Orwellian battle with an automated system that sent email after email demanding, for example, that I confirm my email, until I gave up on my lost phone, because no amount of confirming seemed to work.

Maybe it was naive to try to tell Vodafone that one of their stores had sold me a Nokia that did not hold a charge, refused to refund or exchange it, then sent the phone away into the ether to be mended, where it apparently disappeared.

And that while I was in this store, a chirpy salesman made me sign a digital pad on the counter which it later transpires was them locking me into a new year-long contract without my knowing it — on the phone that doesn’t work.

All things considered, I thought I was very restrained in sending a polite email describing this series of events and asking for their response.

But instead of an apology and an offer to put things right, they emailed back very pompously informing me that they were launching an ‘investigation’ into my ‘latest complaint’, as if a.) they could not possibly just accept a blindingly obvious series of cock-ups on their part and b.) I was clearly someone who habitually complained about either Vodafone, or possibly everything. And so what if I am? There are no laws against complaining. There are laws about contracts, however. Tell the person they’re taking one out, for starters.

Anyway, they launched this investigation, instead of apologising, and that would be bad enough.


But a few days after that, an automated email informed me that while they had now completed their investigation they could not tell me the findings because they could not verify who I was.

They then sent email after email demanding I confirm who I was. At one stage, they emailed a letter addressed to my name asking me to confirm what my name was.

I actually surprised myself by politely confirming that my name was what they had just said it was. I also took the time to explain that I had two email accounts, so the one they had on file was mine in addition to the one I was emailing them on now.

I explained everything, almost as far back as the Earth cooling. I even complied with their request to send an email from the other email. But to no avail. The automated system came back with:

Dear Ms Kite

Thank you for getting back to us about your complaint.

Unfortunately, the details you’ve provided don’t match the information we have on record.

So that I can continue with my investigation into your concerns, I need you to complete some further identity checks.

You can complete these online at www.vodafone.co.uk/vodafone-uk/verifyme/form.

My very simple answer to that is: no. I won’t be completing anything online. To hell with this investigation. I’m sick of investigations. They are hooey.

Boris Johnson and a whole load of government bigwigs, including his wife Carrie, were photographed in the garden of No. 10 having a party.

It’s not a matter we need investigating. The photograph shows quite clearly what happened. The millions of people who have looked at that photo can see it’s a party. They don’t need someone to investigate whether it was or not.

It’s obvious to me that I don’t have the phone I bought. I don’t need Vodafone to investigate whether I have it or not, as if there is an alternative.

What would the alternative be? That I imagined it? That I made the whole thing up for a laugh? But no, we have to await the findings of these inquiries. And by the time the findings come, maybe we will have got bored and they can get away with it after all?

Maybe Vodafone know full well I won’t take the time and trouble to go through their automated system to take part in their endless processology. I’ll just give up and say: ‘To hell with it. I can’t be faffed.’

Maybe the voters will eventually say: ‘What party was that? I can’t even be arsed to think about Boris any more.’

Incidentally, while all this was going on, I had the presence of mind to contact Nokia. And they came back to me straight away to say how sorry they were to hear about my problem.

In half the time it took Vodafone to generate seven emails arguing with me about my identity, a real person at Nokia sent two polite emails, and a new phone, which arrived in the post the next day.

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