If I thought Orange was an incompetent, money-grabbing arsehole of a company, my feelings for T-mobile are simply unrepeatable.
Here's the background. The best part of three years ago, I signed up for a deal with PC World which gave me a computer/ Internet dongle package for £41 a month over a 24 month contract. I had assumed when the 24 month period was over that the contract would simply end, but I was mistaken. In May last year I realised with horror that I'd already paid two instalments more than I needed to, and when I contacted the T-Mobile gorgons, was told that it had always been my responsibility to inform them that I was out of contract, and worse still, that I couldn't terminate said contract without giving them two months' notice. I should say that none of this was pointed out to me when I was sold the package by PC World, but there seemed to be nothing I could do but accept the deal and officially offer my two months' notice...
Around Christmas, and with trips up North approaching, I decided it was maybe time to invest in a pay-as -you-go Internet dongle and against my better judgements, signed up with T-mobile who seemed to be offering the best deal.
Unfortunately, new privacy laws have caused Microsoft to block various ports (or something) on PCs, which means it's now impossible to send emails from my computer when using the dongle, which is about its only use. I spoke to a nice man in technical support at T-Mobile and was informed that nothing could be done to remedy the situation.
We chatted for a while, and the man, who was brilliantly candid, suggested I might think about ending my contract with T-Mobile as a protest. "But I don't have a contract," I said "I'm on pay as you go..." "No you're not" said the lovely man, "you pay £41 a month..." "But I stopped my contract in the summer." "Well you're still paying it!" Horror! Six months of charges for no product...
The man was fairly horrified on my behalf, particularly when it became apparent that it even said in my notes that I'd requested the contract to stop. He said he couldn't deal with any form of repayment, but said he'd put me through to customer services who would, he was convinced, be able to sort things out.
A little bit of music followed; a middle-class sounding choir singing Adele songs, which got so irritating I wanted to throw my computer out of the window.
An Indian woman's voice came on the line and my heart sank. I make no apologies for this response. I believe the one thing that multinational companies need to do, is bring all call centres back to their native countries so that customers can deal with people who share a basic set of values and have a similar level of understanding to kick things off. We may not be able to control the flow of nasty plastic cheap products from China, but calls centres in India make lives miserable...
"What is your mobile number?" the distant voice said.
"I don't have one," I said, "I'm calling about one of your dongles."
"What is your mobile number?"
"If you look at your notes you'll see we're meant to be discussing compensation."
"I cannot hear you. Are you there?"
"Please can you put me back in touch with the man I was just speaking to?"
"I cannot hear you. What is your mobile number?"
"I'm calling about a dongle"
"What colour is your dongle?"
And so it went for another five minutes as my blood slowly began to boil. Periodically she'd hear what I was saying and inform me that she didn't have the authority to put me through to anyone else. The phone call reminded me of a Turkish jury member giving votes at the Eurovision Song Contest circa 1981.
I put Penny on, who was sitting next to me, and she was similarly stumped. I eventually gave the woman my number and she said she'd call me back. An hour later, I was still waiting for her call...
2 hours later, I was listening to Adele again, waiting in a queue for someone from customer services to answer. I waited ten minutes and hung up. I called again, waited another ten minutes and then a chirpy Welsh lady called Vicky answered my prayers and dealt with me compassionately. She tutted and sighed when I explained what I'd gone through and said all the right things at all the right moments. We had a little chat about the weather in Cardiff and she sorted everything out very speedily. Thank God for Vicky. Naughty T- Mobile. How long would it have taken them to realise I was paying for a product that had long since been disconnected? Why on earth did they sell me a second plan when I was still under contract with them for an identical product? Steaming turds...
My day went into free-fall when, after returning from a jog, I received a text message from brother Tim telling me he'd had a minor stroke on the train to work. After a day in hospital he seems to be okay, but I'm obviously worried sick.
Pepys went to see his Uncle Fenner 350 years ago. He'd been avoiding him for some time on account of his new wife, a midwife, who Pepys, in a line of pure vitriolic genius, described as a "pitiful, old, ugly, ill-bred woman in a hat." Her relations, described as "sorry mean people" took Pepys to the local pub, "a narrow dog-hole" where they endured a "sorry poor dinner." Brilliant!