I needed a new mobile phone. My current one was five years old, and kept turning off when it was bumped. I thought buying a new phone would be easy, boy was I wrong. After dithering over the options I finally decided on one, let’s call them TelCo*. My intention was to buy a phone, then put it on a plan, or have it pre-paid. The process went downhill from there.
First when I tried to set up an account in store, they told me my credit check was refused. I knew my credit was good, so this was confusing. I returned home and rang the number they gave me, which turned out to be the wrong one, and I was transferred. After finally getting through the hold music, and giving them my name, address and occupation, I had the following conversation.
Me: “Why has my credit been declined?”
TelCo: “We have to decline you based on the information you’ve given us.”
Me: “But what does that mean?”
TelCo: “You don’t have any current or past accounts with us. If you’d put your home phone with us for six months then we could talk about getting a mobile.”
Me: “Wait, so you’re saying that you’re declining me based on the fact that I have no history with TelCo? Even though I have phone bills and utilities with other companies that I always pay on time?”
TelCo: “If you put your home phone with us we can change that.”
Me: “I don’t want to do that, I want to buy a mobile phone.”
TelCo: “Well, we can’t give you an account based on the information you’ve given us.”
Me: “But I haven’t given you much information at all – just my name and… wait, is this because I’m a stay-at-home mum? I still pay my bills even though I don’t work outside the home – I have a mobile already.”
TelCo: “Look, you have a husband who works right? Get him to set up an account with us.”
Me: “I don’t have a husband.”
TelCo: “Oh. Well you can put your home phone with us…”
Me: “I don’t want to do that. So to summarise, you’re saying I can’t have a phone with you because I haven’t used your network in the past, and because I’m a stay-at-home mum with no working husband?”
TelCo: “But if you put your home phone with us, we can…”
I hung up the phone, fuming and all out of sanity points. I felt like a second-class citizen, embarrassed and angry. I had no idea it would be so hard (or so insulting) to get a mobile phone.
Most of the time I’m content being a single mum, but these sort of 1950s conversations make it difficult. Though it would have been a lot harder then. Women couldn’t have bank accounts in their names, their husbands controlled all the finances. How far have we come? In conversations with friends on Twitter, I’ve heard that even though the women are in charge of the finances in their household, some banks only want to deal with their husbands.
I still don’t have a new mobile phone. I’m going to try another one next, but I’m not ready yet to go another round. You couldn’t pay me to be a customer at this telco after that experience.
Do you have a bad customer service story? Have you had a 1950′s moment with a company? Do you ever wonder how far we have really come?
*Not the actual company name.
Bek M has written 23 posts.
Bek is a Christian single mum and a lover of books, fatshion, computer games, social media and all things vintage. She loves watching Doctor Who and most things sci-fi and fantasy. Bek blogs her op shop finds here: onceyouop.blogspot.com.au and her experiments with fatshion here: ccurves.blogspot.com.au
Follow on twitter: @bookbek