Wednesday, November 17, 2010
As discussed previously, I already have incredibly low expectations of the customer service I will receive from Virgin Mobile Australia but they've managed to negatively exceed my low expectations again and I think it's a great lesson in how not to treat your customers.
Since the iPhone 4 came out in Australia in August I've called Virgin Mobile a number of times to find out when I could get one. Every time I called I was told they had none in stock and that I should call back another time to find out more. The same message to check back later is posted on their website. I continued calling every few weeks to check in for 3 months until my sister's boyfriend told me he had walked into a Virgin Mobile store in Brisbane and walked out with an iPhone 4! Ok I thought, clearly their phone support team doesn't talk to their stores and their stores have stock which their website and phone team don't have access to. I was obviously annoyed that I hadn't been told this.
So 5 weeks ago I called 2 Virgin Mobile stores in Sydney, one in the city and one in Bondi Junction. Both stores asked whether I was a new or existing Virgin Mobile customer. I told them I was an existing customer and they told me they would put me on the waiting list which was about 4 weeks long.
4 weeks passed last week and I hadn't heard back so I called both stores and was told that I was still on the list but that it was still about 4 weeks long. Then I had a thought, I wonder if Virgin are preferencing new customers over existing customers? So the next day I called the Bondi Junction store back and asked if they had any phones in stock. Again I was asked if I was a new or existing customer and this time I lied and answered 'I'm a new customer'. I was told, 'We're getting some new stock in this afternoon and we'll have a phone for you, I'll call you back later today to come and pick it up.'
What the f&%*!
Excuse my language but I've been a Virgin Mobile customer for the last 18 months and this business is going to preference a new customer over me. Someone who has called up for the first time is going to get a phone that same day and after 4 months of waiting I'm supposed to continue to wait for my phone! There is so much that is wrong with this that I'm not going to go into it all except to say that I hope we never, ever do anything remotely similar to this to a single one of our Shoes of Prey customers, let alone one who has been with us for 18 months, let alone have it ingrained in our culture and business processes that these sorts of decisions are ok.
In fact we recently introduced a VIP club for customers who have ordered more than 5 pairs of shoes - they get lifetime free shipping. And we know many of these customer's names (we should be learning them all) so we can ensure we're going above and beyond our already normally high levels of customer service for them. It amazes me that Virgin are doing the opposite. Clearly they believe that existing customers will keep waiting and they're better off prioritising their limited supply of phones to new customers.
Anyway, naturally the Virgin mobile person didn't call me back when they said they would, no surprises there. I called back the next day and was put on hold, the guy didn't hit the hold button and instead put the phone down on the desk, I could hear him talking to another customer which was fair enough. 20 minutes later he still hadn't come back to the phone so I hung up. I called straight back and yep, the phone was off the hook as I got an engaged signal. I called back more than 10 times that day and got the engaged signal for the rest of the day, he left it off the hook for the entire day! I'm glad I hung up and didn't stay on hold. The phone was back on the hook the next day, I called up and was told the delivery had arrived and I could pick up my phone, which I now have.
The frustrating thing is I am still signing up with this company, for another 2 years in fact. I make a lot of overseas calls and they are the only company to include international calls in their caps. If it wasn't for that I would be taking my business to any other phone company but in the meantime I will take some satisfaction in warning off everyone I can from using them and continue to learn from them by doing the exact opposite of anything they do customer service wise.
One of the many things I find incredible about this is that Virgin Mobile are trashing the Virgin brand. Virgin Mobile is owned by SingTel, the same company who own Optus and they license the Virgin brand. I suppose SingTel's strategy is to profit all they can and if the Virgin Mobile brand gets trashed in the process they can simply ditch it and license a new one. Because they don't own it themselves they're not as incentivised to protect it. If I were the Virgin company, or another company licensing the Virgin brand I would not be pleased with Virgin Mobile's actions.
Posted by Michael Fox at 7:18 PM