My problems with EE

EE logoI’ve deliberately refrained from blogging about the problems I’ve been having with EE and T-mobile over the last week as I’m uncomfortable with the concept of using my ‘online influencer’ status to get customer service problems fixed. But this post by Andrew Grill has prompted me into changing my mind and finishing a post that has sat in my drafts for the last few days.

It’s rather ironic that EE has set up an online advocate programme at exactly the time I’ve been having major problems as I’ve been an ‘organic’ T-Mobile advocate for years, simply by being a happy customer. Just as Andrew had been a ‘formal’ advocate for Vodafone in the past, I’ve also been a ‘formal’ advocate for O2  and 3 having received free mobiles and SIMs/credit.

Ironically I know all of EE’s new advocates having spoken at the same conferences with most of them: Gabrielle Laine-Peters @gabriellenyc, Paul Clarke @paul_clarke (don’t know as well and probably spoke to him last ages ago at Tom Watson MP’s leaving do when he stepped down as the minister for digital engagement in the Cabinet Office), Neville Hobson @jangles (known for years – we both spoke at the UK’s first ever social media PR conference in November 2005), and Ewan MacLeod @ew4n who is the only one I don’t know in real life, but have worked with when I headed up the global online corporate communications consultancy team for Sony Ericsson and ‘know’ online.

I’ve been a loyal T-mobile customer since about 2003-4. It’s been a slightly complex relationship as I had a personal account which when I formed Wolfstar I turned into a business account and added several extra lines. When I sold my stake in Wolfstar I transferred my personal number back out into a new personal account and later added an extra line for my wife’s phone.

I deliberately stayed with T-mobile as I’d been delighted with the coverage and customer service I’d had over the years so saw little reason to change, even though there were some slightly more competitive deals on the market.

When 4G launched I decided that I’d give it a go, but then spent a while trying to decide if I wanted a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 or a Nokia Lumia 920. Both were extremely tempting and I eventually decided by flipping a coin!

I then went into an EE store and explained that my situation was slightly complex as my online T-mobile account was showing that my wife’s line was eligible for upgrade now and mine was in February. My question was could I upgrade mine instead so I could use the Note with 4G on my number and she could continue to use her phone and number on 3G until she upgraded later in the year. Yes, I was told. Fantastic, said I, let’s do it. I also wanted to set-up my direct debit again as I’d been unable to do it online as every time I tried it prevented me as my bill was due in the next few days – this happened no matter what time of the month I tried. Both transactions were soon complete and I was given two new micro-SIMs and sent to another EE shop to get an adapter as they’d run out and I’d need it to use a micro-SIM in my wife’s old phone.

A happy man I walked out of the EE shop twenty minutes later with a shiny new Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which I’m really enjoying.

When I got home it wasn’t showing that I was receiving 4G so I assumed I must be too far out of the Leeds coverage area (I live on the outskirts between Leeds and Wakefield). The following day when we went into Leeds I still wasn’t getting 4G so wondering if they’d made a mistake I tried putting my wife’s SIM in my phone. Hey presto, I suddenly had super fast 4G.

Next day I called EE and met with very little assistance as they didn’t have the ‘paperwork’. Seriously in 2012 they didn’t have the paperwork! I was told I had to go back to the shop. I explained I was off to Amsterdam for a few days and this was impossible. I asked to speak to a supervisor or manager, but was told it was impossible to transfer calls. Frankly, I found it hard to believe a phone company doesn’t have the ability to transfer calls. However, I was promised a call back within 24 hours so I reluctantly accepted. The call never came.

Since then I’ve tweeted a few times and complained on Facebook. EE did respond on Twitter and was reasonably helpful, advising me to call T-Mobile instead of EE. But by then I was off to Amsterdam so I had to pick up the saga when I returned. While in Amsterdam I received a text message from T-mobile saying my bill was overdue. Odd, I thought as the assistant had assured me it would be paid by my new direct debit.

Eight days later I’m still waiting for that call back from EE. So yesterday I called T-mobile, as advised by EE, and after about 30 minutes in a queue spoke to a seemingly helpful man (unlike the very unhelpful woman I spoke to in my original call to EE). I explained the situation to him and he said he could take a debit card payment for my outstanding bill and then transfer me to ‘Customer Retention’ who “might” be able to help. I was somewhat dubious about paying an outstanding bill first when all he was promising was “might”. The previous EE operator had “promised”  a call back in 24 hours, which never came. I agreed and he took the payment and then transferred me to ‘Customer Retention’. Or rather he didn’t, as I first heard music for a short while, followed by garbled voices then I was cut off.

Not wanting to waste another 30 minutes on hold I thought I’d wait for a call back. After all, T-Mobile knew what the problem was and had my number. Just to be on the safe side I reminded them on Twitter that I was expecting a call back. As the situation wasn’t straightforward and I was tired of explaining it time and time again I thought I’d email customer services to help them get it sorted out for me. Unfortunately, T-Mobile doesn’t have any email or online support although under Contact it said you could use Facebook. So I sent a private message detailing my problems.

Still no response to my Facebook message, but I have exchanged Twitter DMs with @TMobileUKhelp and told them I’d sent the details on Facebook, to which they responded “Thanks. This will be answered shortly.”

That was yesterday. I then commented on Andrew’s blog and he has helpfully prompted EE to try and solve my predicament.

Let’s see what happens next.

UPDATED: I wrote this in a hurry on Saturday, before dashing out to a Christmas party. I’ve tidied it up this morning to remove some of the typos etc.

UPDATE 2: I received an email last night from EE’s advocate programme and was able to provide them with my account details this morning, so hopefully we are well on the way to resolving this.

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About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.

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