Imagine having the newest smartphone on the market. A smartphone which, compared to your old basic phone which wouldn’t stay on for longer than an hour, looks after your latest technology cravings. You can speak into it to text, update your Twitter, bid on eBay, search for a job, you can even find your way home using Google Maps and you don’t end up walking down the wrong street and, even better, you don’t have to phone up your parents asking for a lift.
In short, the phone has helped your life be more streamlined and manageable. A good £30 a month spent. Perhaps, the best £30 you’ve ever spent.
But, then, just like that, disaster happens. The phone’s charging port has somehow come loose – probably due to all the bustling around it does in your bag/pocket – and it won’t charge at all. That £30 isn’t looking too snazzy now, you think, but after a cuppa, it’s not all that bad. You’ll take it to the shop where you got it and send it off for repair. After all, it’s still under the guarantee.
You take it to the shop. Speak to the worker. He tells you that the phone will be back in 4-5 days and, because of that, you don’t need a receipt. You listen. He seems like a nice guy. Knows what he’s talking about. You make do with your old phone again, sending as little texts as possible so as not to use all of your £5 top-up quickly.
You go back a week later and the guy who told you the phone would be back within days isn’t there. You ask the new workers where he is and they tell you he’s off sick. You tell them about your phone, that it should be back from repair, but they have no idea what you’re talking about. No notes left for them, no deliveries. Nothing. They tell you to go back in a week after they’ve chased the issue up.
A week later, you’re back again. But, this time, the shop isn’t open. No lights on. No ‘Be back in 5 minutes’ sign. The shutters are down. This is very strange. Perhaps they’re all on holidays or are sick or something. You don’t know.
You go back every week, but the shutters are down every time. Then, you find out the shop has actually shut down. Without so much of a whisper.
You phone the company who you took the contract out with – explain the situation – and after the third time you phone due to not-very-helpful customer service and false promises of a phone-call back from them, they finally have an answer. It’s not good news. They can’t do anything for you. No receipt. They’re very sorry, but there’s absolutely nothing they can do.
This time, you phone the network. 3. You explain the situation but they’re not very helpful, either. They offer you a buy-out, which would be over £400 (nearly the price of the handset). You can’t afford that. Then, you’re transferred to a sales representative, who offers to give you the best deal on a separate contract, which would be around £12 a month. On top of your current contract, though, which you’ve been paying for 3 months even though you haven’t seen the phone during this time, let alone used it.
You tell them you’ll think about what to do and phone them back.
You’re without a phone, for good, but still paying £30 a month. You’ll be paying this contract for the next 15 months – the remaining length of your contract.
What are you supposed to do if your network provider can’t help and the company you took out the contract with can’t help, either?
They’re cashing in on your misfortune without so much of a second thought. To them, you’re just a number. To you, that number is £450. The amount you’ll be spending on a phone that’s gone missing due to a severe lack of communication and poor customer service by both companies.
£450 is two months worth of rent for some people. To others, it’s a couple of months worth of food shopping. It’s money you use to live off, without suffering.
So, tell us, phone companies. What can you do to help?
Has anyone else been in a similar situation? Comment below.
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