The Saga

This is what started it all off I suppose . . .

In Aug 2008 I had a ‘phone call from Carphone Warehouse sales team alerting me to the fact that two of my three phones were about to reach the end of their contract period and the third only had about a month to run. As usual, they were able to offer a fantastic “deal” on a number of handsets if I were to take out a new contract, i.e. free of charge phones and reduced line rental for 12 months. One of the phones was mine and the other two were used by my children but the contracts were all in my name – as is the case for many families.

After agreeing to an upgrade for two of the phones the sales rep asked about the third one and I said I would speak to my son first, so could she call back in a few days and we could discuss the phones on offer after I had time to discuss it with him. To my surprise, I received the two new phones the very next day. But, hold on – there was something strange about  the packaging. The boxes were plain white, and contained only 3 items:

  • The phone, a charger and a battery!

Now, I didn’t expect a whole lot more but I was slightly concerned that the user guide, software (CD) and earphone/microphone and USB cable that one usually expects seemed to be missing. In my mind this was obviously not a retail package.

The same sales agent called again the next day and asked if I had made a decision regarding the third upgrade. At that point I said I was not happy with the phones that I had received and I explained the situation. The agent was very apologetic and said she would arrange for collection of the two phones and also their replacement. She also gave me here Direct Phone number in case there were any problems.

And I would have been happy had it ended there. . .

Unfortunately, what followed was a catalogue of how not to provide Customer Service:

  • 3 messages left on Sales Agent’s Voicemail within the 14 day period requesting cancellation
  • 2 further calls made to Customer Service Call Centre with the next 30 days requesting escalation of previous requests
  • 8 letters and numerous emails sent to Carphone Warhouse in order to resolve the issue – by now it was purely a matter of principle!
  • Letter sent to the Carphone Warehouse Data Protection Office asking for a copy of any and all records relating to my account plus a transcript of all call recordings.

The result of which was numerous “standard letter” responses to my communications and frustratingly, each one indicated that there was actually no joined-up process as they simply had not bothered to read the previous correspondences. Here is a selection – you’ll quickly get the drift:

April 2009 (8 months later) – Received details of personal records held on file

I wrote to Carphone Warehouse on 20th November 2008 asking for “any and all” customer records held by them regarding my three accounts. Having not received a reply within 60 days I wrote again on  20th February 2009.

In April I eventually received a recorded delivery (dated 1st April 2009 – how prosaic!) containing a 15 page “Account Report” plus a CD with a single voice recording. Was it pure coincidence that there were a number of records missing or was it perhaps selective recall from their database?

At that stage I really had lost the will to carry on, but during a long overdue drawer tidy in November 2009 I came across the last correspondence and decided that I wasn’t just going to give up. So, I despatched another letter, summarising the communications to date and also included a copy of our office telephone logs showing a number of calls to their customer service call centre, within the 14-day cooling off period, i.e. the ones conveniently missing from their records.

December 2009 (1 year and 4 months later) – In response to my 5th letter:

I received a letter from the Carphone Warehouse apologising for the poor level of customer support that I had experienced – i.e. a tacit acknowledgment of their poor level of service.

It also confirmed that they had supplied clearance handsets BUT, the letter informed me, I had not returned the handsets to a Carphone Warehouse store within the 14-day cooling off period! Click here to read

1 January 2010 – Telephone Call from Carphone Warehouse “CEO Team”

Yes, a ‘phone call from Carphone Warehouse on New Years Day! I was flabbergasted to say the least. However, Charles Cummins explained that his team had been put together to look into such issues because there was a strong desire to incentivise the sales team for customer satisfaction rather than “sales at any price”.

Suffice to say, I thought the Carphone Warehouse offer of compensation was sufficient acknowledgement that they had screwed up, so I accepted it and was prepared to draw a line under the whole lengthy affair.

But wait . . nothing happened. So, I wrote again on 20th March 2010, reminding Charles of our agreement and also written confirmation of such.

April 2010 (1 year and 8 months later) – In response to my 7th letter:

Eventually, after a couple of interactions with @cpwcares I was able to get a sincere apology in writing form Carphone Warehouse and finally closure.

Thank you for the experience Carphone Warehouse – I’m sure it’s just  “a numbers game” to you, but hopefully some lessons might have been learned along the way?