Ill Communication

“Be more dog”, O2 say.  What they mean, I suspect, is roll over and let us kick you for a while. As you might have guessed, I’m not entirely happy with O2 customer service – and so I’m moving back to a supplier that I’ve learned to trust.

It’s not one problem, it’s many – and I’m fed up. I’m kicking back. So, in no particular order…

The Tariff.  This is the hardest problem to kick O2 over because, in all fairness, it looks like O2 are trying to change.  O2 have a new tariff, O2 Refresh, that other providers would do well to emulate.  O2 Refresh splits the bill into two parts – the Device Plan and the Airtime Plan – so that users who have finished paying for their device don’t end up being overcharged on their contract once the device is paid off.  Of course, if you’re on the old plan then O2 may not notify you once you’ve paid off your device, as was my experience, because they’d much rather continue trousering the difference.  For a year and a half in my case.  It’s not illegal, of course, so I don’t expect a refund (and, to be fair, I should really have noticed that I’d finished paying off the handset), but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.  I did try to change my tariff to the new O2 Refresh (at the same time as I attempted to upgrade my phone) but O2 changed my tariff back the old one when I cancelled the phone order (and so they happily kept on overcharging me). Hang on – isn’t the whole thing about Refresh that it’s decoupled from the need to purchase a handset? Apparently that isn’t illegal either.

The Lies. So why did I cancel the handset order?  Well, when I ordered my iPhone 6 I was told that the delivery time would be two weeks.  That’s fine.  It’s a new handset, and very popular too, so I expected to wait.  After two and a half weeks, I got in touch with O2 to find out where my iPhone was – and I was told that they were very sorry and that my iPhone would be in my hands by the next Wednesday at the very latest.  On the next Tuesday I received something else instead – I received a text telling me that because the iPhone is really popular, I wouldn’t be getting it on Wednesday after all.  I spoke to O2 again and was faithfully promised by the O2 rep, and his manager no less, that they were very sorry for the issues that I’d been experiencing and that I’d have my phone on Friday.  On Friday I got… No iPhone.  O2 tell me that it’s all “Apple’s fault” (their words), but that won’t wash.  Apple might not be able to meet demand, but I doubt that Apple told O2 to lie to customers about the delivery time.  I also suspect that Apple has been able to deliver some iPhones to O2, and that O2 has been slipshod in shipping them out, rather than working on a strictly first-come, first-served basis.

I don’t mind delays.  Delays I can cope with.  But I won’t tolerate being lied to, and especially not repeatedly.  I have no doubt that by cancelling my order with O2 and opening a new one with EE I will have more than doubled my wait time.  I don’t mind that.  EE have been honest, so far, in telling me that the average wait time is 21 days – but that I could be waiting for a month for my phone.

The Software. Adding to the stress, I moved house recently.  BT managed to make a mess of our Broadband setup but they provided good customer support and paid for us to have a broadband dongle.  I unwisely chose to have a dongle from O2.  The hardware for the dongle might be excellent, but I didn’t really get to play with it because the software is probably the worst that I’ve ever used. For Mac OS X, at least, it’s amateurish in the extreme. Perhaps O2 doesn’t consider the Mac to be a very important market – but, if so, this would be a grave error since the Mac is growing in market share as Windows declines, and the domination of high end computing (where users spend significantly) by Apple is almost total.  In any event, providing untested software that looks as if it was cobbled together by an intern in their spare time is not the best way of delighting customers.

Enjoy the following screenshots and you’ll see what I mean.  If you can work out what’s going on please let me know.

MainWindowThe main window for O2 Connection Manager.  Not very Mac like – and not much of it makes sense either.
Bad DialogueSomething happened.  Something important, probably.  Nobody is any the wiser though!
DockSadly the dock menu isn’t anymore sensible. I’d argue that software of this nature shouldn’t be cluttering up the dock anyway – but that’s a different issue.

This software wouldn’t be forgivable even if the development tools provided by Apple were poor – but they’re not.  Apple provides world class development tools, well documented, with well understood and stable APIs.  It does everything that it can to make developing software pleasurable and easy – and it leaves no excuse for lazy, badly written, software like this.  Naturally, O2 claimed that these problems weren’t their fault.

The Support. Actually getting customer support with O2 is a trial too.  They’ve ‘upgraded’ to a funky new instant messenger model that doesn’t actually work for more complex issues.  I imagine that their support staff aren’t based in the UK either because, whilst their English is excellent, they have a somewhat condescending schoolmarmish manner “Allow me to explain this simply for you”.  To save you the bother of calling them, the explanation is invariably “It’s not our fault”.  From speaking to O2 the problem has variously been “Your fault”, “Apple’s fault” and (amazingly, since I’ve never knowingly bought a service from them) “Sky’s fault”.  O2 are expert at passing the buck, but not very skilled at taking responsibility.

Email is no longer an option, which is a pity because sometimes email is exactly the right tool for the job.  Especially for customers who aren’t quite as young and funky as they might like to be. O2 can do telephone support but by god they’ll make you wait for it.  I had to wait for forty minutes to get support.  I imagine that the phone only got answered because the chap had finished his tea-break and was bored of hearing the phone ringing.


So what do I take away from this unpleasant experience?  Well, O2 are going in the right direction with O2 Refresh but, for me, it’s too little, too late.  I hope that EE and the other providers sit up, take note, and provide a similar tariff (but without the lacklustre support).  For that matter, I hope that the other providers up their game and provide full support for the iPhone – because, without custom service provider support for functions like Visual Voicemail and Handoff, there isn’t much to choose between iPhone and Android.  In the UK today, only O2 and EE fully support iPhone functionality.

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