Why I Will Never Buy Anything From Tesco Mobile Again!

I Become a Tesco Mobile Customer in Dec 2013

On the 5th December 2013 I signed up (online) for an iPhone 5s and took out a 24 month contract with Tesco Mobile.  If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I am a customer and advocate of giffgaff. So why did I, in addition to continuing as a giffgaff customer, also became a Tesco Mobile customer?

The need to buy a second phone, and have a second phone number, arose for business reasons.  The decision to go with Tesco Mobile was based to a large degree on the Nunwood placing Tesco Mobile at no 13 in it’s 2013 Customer Experience rankings.  You can read my post on those rankings here.

About a week after (around the 12th December) the phone had arrived and I activated it.  It worked fine. I was happy with the choice I had made and got busy with organising Christmas as for once we were not travelling but staying home.

I Hit An Important Snag This Week: Vital Functionality is Not There

This week, on Monday, I was in a business meeting and needed access to the internet to access documents in the cloud. So I turned to my iPhone (as I had done for the last three years or so) to turn on the personal hotspot and use that to enable my laptop to connect to the Internet. To my surprise and disbelief I couldn’t find the functionality on the iPhone.

During Tuesday I checked on the internet and talked with some people.  They couldn’t find the personal hotspot functionality on my iPhone 5s -yet it was on their iPhones! So I rang Tesco Mobile for help.  How helpful were the folks?

Technical Support Showed Up as Honest and Helpful

The chap in Tesco Mobile’s Technical Support was great. I told him of my issue, he got it, he sympathised. He told me that whilst the personal hotspot/tethering functionality worked on other phones it didn’t on Apple iPhones. Why? Because Tesco Mobile has not struck up a suitable agreement with Apple.  When I shared the impact of this lack of functionality, he was great. He told me he understood. That this issue has been raised by other iPhone customers. And that he raised the issue within Tesco Mobile.  Unfortunately, management has decided not to do anything about it. By the time I ended the phone call I got his frustration, his disappointment at lack of suitable action by Tesco Mobile’s management, and his desire to do his best for customers like me.

Customer Services Quotes Policy and Points The Finger At Me

After taking time to consider my options given that I need that personal hotspot/tethering functionality I rang Tesco Mobile’s Customer Service team.  The woman who responded to my call was not great.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: I need the personal hotspot/tethering functionality. This week I found that it was not present on my iPhone 5s when I really needed it. I talked to Technical Support and they told me it is not active because Tesco Mobile has not come to a suitable agreement with Apple.  I need your help to get this issue sorted out.

Call Centre Agent: There is nothing I can do that functionality is simply not there.  It is not there for Apple products. It is there for other products.

Me: I had an iPhone (for 2- 3 years) previously through my employer on the O2 network, the personal hotspot/tethering worked fine. I used it all the time when I was travelling. I travel a lot for business and I really need that functionality. If I had known that this functionality is not present on the iPhone with Tesco Mobile then I would never have bought it. What can you do to help me with this issue?

Call Centre Agent: You had 14 days from the day of the contract to try out the iPhone, send it back and cancel your contract.  You didn’t do that. I can’t help you.

Me: I need help with my issue, I don’t need you or anyone else to quote the contract at me.  The fact is that I didn’t need the personal hotspot/tethering functionality until this week. And it is only this week that I became aware of it. Can you give me dongle that I can plug into my laptop and the data usage comes out of my existing contract?  That would sort out the issue.

Call Centre Agent: we are a mobile company we don’t do dongles. There is nothing I can do.

Me: My contract with Tesco Mobile consists of two parts, the phone and the monthly tariff for calls and data.  I’d like to repay, today, in full the outstanding payments for the phone and cancel the contract.  That way you are not out of pocket as I have repaid the cost of the phone. And I can go to another provider who does provide the functionality I need. Can I do that?

Call-Centre Agent: Yes, you are on the anytime upgrade plan. You should be able to do that.

Me: Can you please look into that right now and let me know what it will cost for me to end this contract?

Call-Centre Agent: I’ve looked into. If you want to terminate the contract then you have to pay off the entire contract. That comes to £610 for the iPhone and another £300 for the tariff.

Me: Thank you.

My Take on Tesco Mobile and It’s Orientation Towards Its Customers

Everything flows from being. It occurs to me that the being of Tesco Mobile is anything but customer-centric.  It is selfish. It is mean. It is extractive. It is dishonest.  What leads me to make this statement?

Folks in Tesco Mobile know that the Apple line of products is missing the personal hotspot/tethering functionality. Yet they have chosen to hide this information from those who search for and look at iPhones: nowhere on the website (product page, help and support pages, purchase process pages) have I found anything that informs prospective customers – so that any purchases made are made with open eyes.

Tesco Mobile is the source of my problem and when I brought the problem to Tesco Mobile’s attention, policy was quoted, and the finger of blame was pointed at me. What is my wrong doing? Assuming that because my last iPhone (with 02) had the personal hotspot/tethering functionality then the same functionality would be present on Tesco Mobile. Please note that Tesco Mobile is a MVNO that uses the 02 network.

All through my conversation with the call-centre agent I was the one suggesting ways of moving forward- the dongle idea, terminating the contract – no helpful ideas were put forward by the call-centre agent, her attitude was one of indifference (at best)

I offered Tesco Mobile a fair route to solving the problem – one that would have paid them back for the cost of the mobile phone in full, and the tariff charges to date.  Tesco Mobile didn’t go for that. Tesco Mobile insisted in charging me for the phone (which is fair) and for the whole 24 months of tariff charges.  Which, in my eyes, amounts:

  • to letting me down by not providing the functionality that other networks do provide;
  • causing me extra work in that I am faced with the work of finding and switching to another provider; and
  • insisting on robbing me by charging me for 22 months of a service (phone calls, texts, data) that they will not be providing and I will not be using.

Summing Up

As I think of Tesco Mobile, the phrase “liar, thieves and cheats” come to mind.  Put differently, it occurs to be that Tesco Mobile’s fundamental mode of being is that of a liar, a thief, a cheat. My experience suggests that liar-thieves-cheats don’t easily change their ways. Which is why I will never buy anything from Tesco Mobile again.

I recommend that you think twice before becoming a customer of Tesco Mobile especially if the phone that you intend to use is an Apple iPhone!

Afterword / Update

What happened when this post got retweeted on Twitter? You can find out by clicking here.

 

If you don’t answer this question correctly then your customer efforts are simply putting lipstick on the pig

Yesterday British Banks Gave Up The Fight Against Compensating Their Customers
Yesterday the British Banks (HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, RBOS…) that ‘own’ the retail banking market gave up, reluctantly, their legal fight against compensating the millions of customers who were ‘mis-sold’ payment protection insurance (PPI): ‘Millions in line for PPI redress’.

The British banks are notorious for delays especially when it comes to handling complaints and refunds.   Today the FSA has instructed these banks to accelerate compensation payments: ‘Financial Services Authority wants banks to speed up PPI payouts’.

Was it ‘mis-selling ‘ or deliberately ‘ripping-off’ customers?
Whilst the newspapers use the term ‘mis-selling’ consumer groups and others describe PPI as a ‘rip-off’ or ‘racket’.  ‘How the PPI scandal unfolded‘  makes it clear that “Britain’s banks have been aggressively selling ‘ineffective and inefficient’ – but highly profitable – payment protection insurance for more than a decade.”

This is what the Citizens Advice Bureau said about PPI:  “Payment protection insurance (PPI) is sold to borrowers with the promise of peace of mind and reassurance that credit or mortgage payments will be covered if their personal and financial circumstances change for the worse.  However, many CAB clients find that they cannot make a successful claim on their policy because of exclusion clauses and administrative barriers to making a claim.  Premiums for PPI policies can add 20 per cent or more to the total amount to be repaid on a loan agreement, thus increasing people’s indebtedness rather than preventing it.”

The one key question that lies at the heart of the customer-centric orientation
If you read widely you will see there are all kinds of views on what it means to be customer-centric and no shared agreement.  As such all kinds of people and companies are claiming to be customer-centric.  If you believe you are customer-centric then I put this question to you:

  • Is it ok for you to make money by taking advantage of your customers trust, ignorance, biases and other cognitive weaknesses?

If it is ok for your and your organisation to take advantage of your customer then you are not and will never be customer-centric.  Why? There are two ways to answer this question.

The blunt answer is that you are self-centred and selfish. Given that, it is simply not possible for you to be other-centred including customer-centred.

The polite answer is that long term relationships are central to a customer-centric orientation and these relationships rest on trust.   Trust, in turn, rests on the three key pillars: honesty, fairness and competence.   As Peppers & Rogers say in Rules to Break & Laws to Follow:

Customers may forgive honest mistakes but will never forgive dishonesty.

This point is articulated rather well by Nils Pratley in the following piece: ‘The moral of this PPI tale: don’t rip off your customers’.

Incidentally, dishonesty literally sucks the heart out of many of your employees: how many people genuinely want to exert the best of themselves in dishonest activities?

If you wish you can stop reading right here.  However, if you have the interest then follow me and lots explore/probe the customer-centric paradigm a little further using the Be-Do-Have framework.

Have: what you want to get out of your ‘relationship’ with the customer
What does top management (‘Tops’) really care about? They care about what they are measured and rewarded on. And what is that? Ultimately it comes down to exceeding analyst expectations on revenue, margins and profits. This and the behaviour that it generates are discussed in this HBR interview with Roger Martin.

Do: the actions that you take to get what you want
Things get a little trickier when we get to the Do part. What do you have to do to get the results that you want? You can make the numbers through a whole array of actions. For example:

  • locking customers into longer contracts for example by moving from 12 to 18 month contracts for mobile phones (e.g. telecoms);
  • take advantage of your customers ignorance and sell them products (e.g. PPI) that are not fit for purpose (e.g. banks);
  • deliberately making it difficult for your customers to work out which product is the best fit for their needs so that they buy the more expensive product (e.g. telecoms);
  • making it difficult for them to stop doing business with you and switch to another supplier (utilities, broadband, financial services, hi-tech..);
  • cutting the investment in customer service by making it more difficult for customers to contact you and if they do then having the call handled by someone in a distant country;
  • ensuring that your products do what they are supposed to do, that they are easy to use and have high resale value (e.g. Honda);
  • making it easy for your customers to do business with you (e.g. Amazon, eBay); and
  • standing for a set of values, practices and products that connect with a specific segment of the population (e.g. Virgin, Apple); and
  • viewing yourself as being in the business of ‘delivering happiness’ (Zappos).

Given the breadth of choice that you have,  limited only by your imagination, how do you decide what is the right course of action?   You may be thinking that brand values might help here. They can if they are lived in values. They are useless if they have been dreamt up for marketing (influence / propaganda) purposes.

The BE domain is the source of all guidance on what courses of action are ruled in and ruled out.  So let’s take a look at that.

BE: existence, stance, character and values
The BE domain is NOT concerned with the personality you put on for show – to seduce the people that you wish to seduce.  Nor is it concerned with what you say or your intentions.

The BE domain IS concerned with your authentic self.  Specifically it deals with the issues of purpose, stance, character and values as an integrated whole.  A different way of looking at this is to examine how you behave when you are under pressure: what are you willing to do or not to do no matter what the personal cost?

At the organisation level you face a fundamental choice.  To BE the kind of organisation that prospers through honest dealing and creating superior value for customers.  Or to BE the kind of organisation that does whatever it takes to make the numbers – treating people (customers, employees, suppliers..) as objects to be manipulated for one’s own benefit.

The default setting, as illustrated by the British banks in relation to PPI,  is that customers are seen as objects to be manipulated for the benefit of the organisation. Where concessions are made to customers it is because of regulatory pressure or because competitors force that move.  In Martin Buber’s view this is the ‘I- It’ orientation.

Are your customer efforts simply an exercise in putting lipstick on a pig?
You and your organization become customer-centric when you refuse to make money by taking advantage of your customers.   That means practicing and living honesty and fairness.  Until you do that all of your Customer experience, customer engagement and loyalty initiatives are simply an exercise on putting lipstick on the pig.  You might reap the rewards now yet sooner or later the pig will show through and you will pay the price.  Let me end by quoting from Peppers & Rogers once more:

If being fair to customers conflicts with your company’s financial goals, then fix your business model or get a new one.