This article is all about how I got Vodafone to cough up £150 for installing my broadband 3 weeks late. Their first offer was £20, and they were adamant that my £150 demand was ridiculous. Here’s the secrets on how I got them to change their mind and how you can use my template too. I also share how I refused to sign up to an 18-month broadband term and won.
First let me give you the background.
New house = new 18-month contract? No thanks.
The story begins in March 2019 when I moved house. I had asked Vodafone well in advance of my moving date if they could simply transfer my existing service to a new address.
Of course this is a request they get all the time, and they duly obliged. It was only when I got to the end of the call – the bit where the operator apologises and says “I have to read this out” – that I realised that I would have to commit to a fresh 18-month term.
I didn’t think it was fair that I had taken out an 18-month contract (which I was 7 months into at this point) and I now had to commit to a further 18 months just for the privilege of moving home.
I refused to commit to an 18-month contract. It was simply unreasonable and felt to me like a way of locking you in without any real justification whatsoever.
I was happy to honour the term of my contract, but I wouldn’t have it extended through the back door this way.
The operator said this couldn’t be done. He said it was in my contract terms and that’s what I signed up to.
When I checked the terms though, it says Vodafone “may” require me to take out a fresh 18-month contract, which isn’t as concrete as a “shall”.
I got high up enough through the Vodafone chain of command and made this point to them, as well as pointing out the common-sense issue that this is simply not fair on me as a consumer.
My argument was that you either allow me to end my contract without any fee, or you let me carry it on without signing up to a new 18-month contract. Forcing me into a new contract is just taking advantage of the fact that I’m moving home.
They ended up agreeing to this, and said I could simply call back once the broadband went live and someone would manually reduce my term by 7 months. Result.
Now I just needed to wait for my broadband to go live. Easy enough, right?
I had been given a go-live date of 21 March for broadband in my new place. Long story short, it eventually went live 3 weeks later on 11 April. In that time, I wasted hours on the phone, and was without broadband for 3 weeks. In this day and age, broadband is pretty much an essential service, and a 3-week delay has a huge impact.
Vodafone did provide me with 50gb of free data on my mobile contract with them that I could tether and the rest of the house could use. But this meant me leaving my phone at home for 3 weeks, as my wife and kids needed to use the internet during the day and I would not be at home. So I was not only without broadband for 3 weeks, but I was personally also without my main phone!
This was a major inconvenience for me, as you can imagine. So once the broadband eventually went live, I set my sights on getting some of that inconvenience back by way of compensation.
Here’s how I did it.
Step 1: Keep all records
I’ve got to the point now where I can sense the start of a potential problem with a service provider. And I sensed it with Vodafone the minute my broadband didn’t go live when it was supposed to.
I started to keep all records of when I called them, who I spoke to, and what they promised. I also recorded calls with their permission.
All of this stuff is crucial ammunition because when you are told inconsistent things – and this is normally the case – you at least have objective evidence.
So get into the habit of keeping contemporaneous records. Writing them in your phone notes is a good idea.
Step 2: don’t back down
When you go through the complaints procedure, you have to understand that you are dealing with trained people. Their job revolves around finding resolutions to complaints. Their performance is measured on how they deal with these things.
One common trend I’ve seen with companies when dealing with complaints is that they will always start with a lowball offer. It’s a negotiating tactic known as anchoring and it’s designed to get you in the frame of mind to accept that lowball figure or slightly higher.
You need to unhook that low anchor immediately and tell it to them straight: you will not be accepting anything near that.
Step 3: know what you want
This is really crucial. If you are dogged in your approach from the get-go, you’re more likely to get what you are looking for. And you’re less likely to give up when you get lowballed in step 2.
The way to approach your compensation ask is really up to you, but I’d recommend having some structure. In my case, £150 was based primarily on Ofcom Automatic Compensation rates. Strictly speaking, this didn’t apply to my particular scenario. Both Vodafone and I knew that. But I was pretty clear with Vodafone is saying that I know these rates don’t apply, but they’re a good guideline for compensation.
Ofcom advise £5 per day compensation for a delay. That, for me, would amount to £105 as I had a 3-week delay. Add in the inconvenience for having to leave my phone at home for 3 weeks plus all the time wasted on phone calls, and an extra £45 was more than reasonable.
I was able to explain this to various operators to demonstrate I wasn’t being unreasonable. Which is why when it eventually got high enough, they saw sense and didn’t dispute the figure.
In hindsight, I actually think I could have got £200.
My tip here would be to look at what you think is reasonable and ask for 20-25% more.
Step 4: have an ace up your sleeve
Like any negotiation, you want to have some sort of incentive for the other side to accept your proposal.
In this instance, my threat was that I would complain to Vodafone’s regulator, Ofcom. This is a pretty useful tip if you are dealing with any regulated company. Mobile networks and other telecommunications companies are regulated by Ofcom. There are other bodies like Ofgem (for energy companies) and many more for other industries.
Regulators tend to favour us average consumers. And it also costs a company money for their regulator to have to deal with a complaint. As well as the fact that regulators will usually side with a consumer. All of this means that companies will not usually want a complaint to be escalated to the regulator.
The people you deal with initially might not seem too bothered, but when it goes high enough, they’ll know they want to avoid it.
Step 5: graciously accept or escalate
Finally, when they do offer you what you want, you should accept graciously per Islamic adab. I should add that throughout all of this, you should maintain politeness. It isn’t befitting of a Muslim to behave rudely anyway, but it won’t help your case either.
If the company can’t meet your needs, then you need to escalate the matter (for example, to the regulator).
Have you been victim to poor service from a company and want to put my steps into action? My last tip is to check out Resolver and get started with your complaint today!
I’m keen to hear about successes and failures in the comments. Also, if you want any tips, let me know!