Thursday 11 December 2008

Dear Vodafone customer care

I've just had cause to write the following lengthy message to Vodafone:

Dear Vodafone customer care,

I am writing to complain about the recent service I have received from Vodafone concerning the repair of my N95 phone which has developed a hardware fault.

I reported the fault (handset speaker produces no sound) via your telephone service number, and after some ridiculous fiddling around with network settings which were clearly going to have no effect, you agreed to accept the phone for warranty repair. I posted the phone to you.

You then contacted me last week telling me that you had diagnosed the fault as an "audio fault" and that the "A-cover" would need replacing, and also that the repair was not covered by the manufacturer's warranty, and that you would charge £40 to repair the phone. When I asked for the precise reason why the fault was not covered, and pointed out that the manufacturer's warranty at

did not mention any such exclusion, you were not able to give me an explanation.

I then contacted Nokia Care who confirmed to me that there was no reason the fault wouldn't be covered, and suggested that I take it to one of their care points.

Since taking it to a care point will use up several hours of my time, and in view of the fact that as retailer you are responsible for upholding the terms of the warranty and fixing the obvious defect with the phone, I persisted in trying to communicate with you to get the phone fixed.

I contacted you again by phone last Friday and related my conversation with Nokia. Again you claimed that the phone was not covered, that you were following Nokia's own (unspecified) guidelines, but that if I provided written confirmation of the situation from Nokia you would fix the phone free of charge.

I considered this to be a pretty ridiculous request; it is surely your own responsibility to liase with the manufacturer in this case and your tactics of avoidance and blame-shifting have merely served to aggravate your customers.

However, I accepted this and asked that you keep hold of the phone for a few days to give me time to provide this written confirmation.

It was not until Tuesday that I was able to communicate with Nokia. Owing to problems with their email system and online form, I was not able to request the written confirmation as I had intended; however in any case, I then received from you a text message informing me that you had posted my phone back to me unfixed.

This action, of course, makes a complete mockery of your service, given the ongoing conversations between us. You have deliberately forced the problem onto me still further by sending the phone back before giving me a chance to provide the documentation that you could not be bothered to collect yourself.

To make matters even worse, when I received the phone back yesterday (Wednesday) I discovered that two scratches had appeared on the phone which were not there when I sent it off, and that the reassembly has been done so carelessly that the sliding portion of the case is at an angle to the main part of the case - mainly of cosmetic consequence,
but I am also concerned that this weakens the moving parts and introduces a possible weakness that would cause further failures.

I am writing now to make you aware of the appalling experience I have had in dealing with your company and its agents, in dealing with what I still consider to be a severe fault with the handset which developed in normal use, and your actions leading to a phone with additional flaws that were not present when I sent the unit to you.

Given this description of events, I trust that you will offer to fix the original fault free of charge and ensure that the phone is properly reassembled at the nearest opportunity, so that I can receive a fixed handset back by 22nd December (after which time I will be away travelling and require the use of this handset). If I do not receive a satisfactory resolution to this problem, I do not intend not to renew my contract with you when it expires.

Please note that I require a reply tomorrow (Friday 12th December) in order to have time to send off the phone for further repair.

Dominic Hargreaves

Posted by Dominic at 18:15

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Posted by Dominic at 18:13

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Shopping with the Oxford Bach Choir

Perhaps rather foolishly, I recently volunteered to look after a redesign of the Oxford Bach Choir website which I recently completed. The site is now using the Drupal CMS and (I hope) is an improvement on what was there before.

I hope to be able to post more fully my experience with Drupal in the future, because although there were some definite pitfalls, I found it an interesting experience.

One of the things I ended up playing with was the Amazon Associate API, which allows us to embed Amazon product details into our pages. I've added a 'recommended recording' metadata field to our concerts, which automatically retrieves cover art and provides a link to the product on the Amazon web site (you can see an example on the page for our March concert).

The nice thing about this is that we also take a cut of the profits on any product purchased via a link from our site (even indirectly). I also added a link at the bottom of every page as a 'support OBC' style link to Amazon.

I also set up a redirect so that goes straight to Amazon as a referral from us, which meant that I could advertise it as part of the weekly email bulletin to members. So far (probably mostly as a result of that advertisement to members) we've earned a fee on 18 ordered items, with another 10 or so not yet dispatched). We'll have to see how much this makes over the course of the year, but at that rate we'll pay for the hosting, which would be nice!

The Oxford Bach Choir, for those who don't know, puts on two main concerts a year with professional orchestras, in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. The cost of these concerts can be around the GBP20,000 mark, sometimes more, and with the capacity of the Sheldonian it's generally impossible to break even on ticket sales alone. So we rely largely on charitable donations, membership subscriptions, and other income. So whether or not you've been to a concert in the past, if you shop on Amazon, do consider bookmarking our shop URL and support us with very little extra effort (as well of coming to our concerts, of course).

Lastly, I note that Amazon has launched a DRM-free digital downloads service, which arguably marks the end of the DRM-obsessed era for music downloads.

Posted by Dominic at 12:59

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