Many, many years ago, I worked for a phone company. And I got a mobile phone, and I had it on a staff plan.
Some years later, they realised that I had left the company and I probably wasn’t entitled to a staff plan anymore. Fortunately, by that time, we could access the same plan through Fraser’s work. So we changed the phone into his name (and got a new number), and kept it on the plan.
Earlier this year, we got a letter to say that they had realised we were on the really really good plan that plan was no longer available and they had switched us to a basic plan. My phone bills went from about $15-$25 a month to around $100 a month. Ouch. I need the phone for work, so cancelling was not an option. And I am, mostly, allergic to contracts, especially on services that I have been using since 1995 or so.
Then I went to Europe. I rang to confirm I had Roaming, and they told me that I had to go onto a Plan. A 12 month contract, to be specific. So I said OK, because I really really wanted to be able to use my phone in Europe, and I got a contract.
Me: “Can I upgrade it later, if the minimum contract is not enough?”
Phone person: “Yes.”
Well now you know what’s coming.
My phone bills stayed at around the $100 level. So in December, I rang to change to a higher plan. Which I have to stay on for 12 months, which will be annoying if we go to Europe next year (but worthwhile in the meantime).
I got my first bill today – with a $101.73 charge for switching plans. WTF?
I rang the phone company, with 2 points.
- I was told in October that I could upgrade from the $20 plan. No-one mentioned a charge.
- I was not told in December that I would be slugged with this extortionate charge.
Their response had me utterly gob-smacked and dumbfounded:
You didn’t change to the same TYPE of plan, so that is why you were charged the fee.
I pointed out, quite gently, that perhaps it was not reasonable to expect a customer to have an intimate knowledge of their internal and arbitrary distinctions between their types of plan.
Then I told the consultant that I was really quite annoyed (OMG understatement) and that I was quite prepared to take this case to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
Couple of minutes later, bingo. Charge reversed, please underpay your bill, sorry for the inconvenience, have a nice day.
Whoo hoo. Problem solved.
This is bureaucracy at its best worst most bizarre. I’m sorry, you didn’t fill in the RED form and file it in the GREEN box, you lose.
2009 appears to be Melissa’s Year Of Not Tolerating Organisational Stupidity. At least until I get lazy.