An ex-employee in the field and an ex-employee in the call center reported on the methods used in their work at the time.
For example, employees would have pretended to be technicians in order to sneak into the home of potential customers.
The response to the message “Vodafone convicted: How the company tried several times to rip off customers” was overwhelming. Dozens of readers told NewsABC.net about their history with the mobile operator – including some former employees. They talk about their experiences at work, in the field and on the phone. The insiders also report dubious methods of some employees.
Vodafone works with several sales partners; be it shops, call centers or providers for the field service. The employees receive a basic salary of around 1,600 euros gross per month and a “performance-related” commission, as is the case with a partner for telephone customer service. It is staggered depending on the type of product and is only paid out if the contract is not canceled or canceled.
Gift or voucher
A reader who worked in such a call center for Vodafone still remembers one case exactly. He once spoke on the phone to a lady who complained about a malfunction in her line. The problem was clearly with Vodafone, his boss confirmed that, and it could not be solved. But instead of compensating the customer with a credit note, he was asked to offer her an umbrella or a cup instead.
“We tested the ‘gift or voucher’ campaign at that time to check whether customers who were rightly angry were more likely to use a gift in kind or a credit to restore satisfaction. A gift in kind might have been remembered more sustainably than an invoice credit. However, we quickly discontinued the program because it did not bring the hoped-for success, ”a Vodafone spokesman told NewsABC.net.
Vodafone employees may not refer to certain rights
Only when she rejected the offer did he issue the customer with the credit. When he wanted to inform the woman about the special right of termination, his superior would have stopped him. After all, the internet still works.
“In the event of disruptions, we always do everything possible to ensure that the customers concerned can use our networks again as quickly as possible,” the spokesman continues. “Legal advice, for example on the subject of ‘special termination rights’ or ‘switching to another provider’ cannot and must not be provided by the agent.”
Last but not least, the ex-employee was encouraged to make conversations as complicated as possible so that customers can hang up faster and because it is particularly difficult for seniors to cope with. “This statement has no basis and logic,” replies the spokesman. “The aim is to solve the problem sustainably in the first contact. We always score good to very good in the regular endurance tests of specialist media such as Connect, Chip, Computerbild and Stiftung Warentest. ”
Trade magazine Connect and Vodafone once manipulated quality tests
However, this is not entirely true. It is true that Stiftung Warentest distinguished Vodafone’s mobile network. However, both Chip and Computerbild as well as Stiftung Warentest report moderate to poor results of their customer service tests. Among other things, “Focus Online” also headlined in 2018: “Customer hotlines from telephone providers in check – Vodafone has the worst service.” Nor is there any to be found on the company’s list of awards received that confirms good customer service.
Only the magazine “Connect” gave the customer service good marks around 2017. Small smack: Vodafone and that trade magazine sometimes publish joint special issues. Above all, however, “Mobile Talk” reported another cooperation in 2013: At that time, Connect’s questions were leaked to Vodafone employees before a hotline test. Both companies regretted the incident.
The technician trick: how some sales representatives get their contracts
Another ex-employee of NewsABC.net says that there are considerable differences between experienced and beginners in the field – those who sell contracts at the front door. Because some experienced people already have lists of people who they know that the sale of a contract will not be successful here. Those who are not on the list will be targeted. This is reminiscent of the case brought by the Hamburg Consumer Center.
According to the employee, those field staff focus on high-rise buildings or social housing, because the fluctuation among tenants is particularly high here. Particularly interesting are those who have only recently moved in but still use the TV connection from the previous tenant. If that “technician” gets on their way, he points out that this is illegal; but also explains that he can refrain from filing a criminal complaint if the tenant only signs a contract – which the “technician” naturally has with him. In particularly tough cases, such employees are said to have even cut off the main connection in the basement to wait for a tenant to come down and check by themselves. You only need to accompany him to the apartment.
Performance stealth is illegal – but it is also “curable”
Performance concealment is a criminal offense. “In the interests of millions of honest customers, Vodafone has of course also been looking after households for many years where there is reasonable suspicion that they are using the Vodafone cable network permanently without paying for it. They also specifically cut cable connections for which no one pays, even though they are clearly used, ”said the spokesman for Vodafone.
In principle, the fee can also be collected retrospectively. “However, our self-employed sales representatives also have the opportunity to ‘cure’ this situation by concluding a regular user contract for the future on site – mind you, with a user who has previously received these services without paying so far.” Connections Switching off paying customers is not allowed.
Smartphone, electricity, pay TV: With these tips you will never pay too much for your contracts
- 1. Cancel on time
Termination is the most important point, because many contracts become significantly more expensive after the minimum term and automatically renew at a higher price. “There is nothing to be said against terminating contracts shortly after conclusion. This way you don’t miss the notice period, ”says Benjamin Weiland.
It does not matter whether it is a smartphone tariff, the DSL or the Pay TV provider. “Termination pays off with every permanent obligation,” Weiland continues.
However, he restricts: “For contracts that have been concluded on the Internet or on the phone, consumers have a 14-day right of withdrawal. So that no misunderstandings arise, it is advisable to cancel only after this period. ”In individual cases, it could otherwise be that the offer is canceled and consumers no longer have a contract.
- 2. Offers for new customers are often better than for existing customers
The fact that a cancellation is always worthwhile is because the offers for new customers are better than the offers to existing customers. “Companies are looking for growth that can be measured primarily by the number of customers,” says Weiland. That is why companies want to win as many new customers as possible and invest in them in the form of cheap offers.
“These effects will increasingly occur at the end of a quarter or a year,” the bargain expert continued. It is then that the companies want to raise their numbers and lure with the cheapest offers. “So if you have the opportunity, you should conclude your contract at the end of a quarter or a year.”
Only when the contract is automatically renewed at the higher conditions is it worthwhile for the companies – only then is a customer really profitable, reports Weiland.
- 3. Keep calm
Once the termination has been confirmed and the end of the contract is approaching, keep calm. Do not rush to contact the provider and find out about the terms of a contract extension, but let the telephone company or the pay TV operator take the first step.
Termination often provokes a return offer
“Depending on the area, the companies make so-called return offers to their customers at the end of the contract,” explains Weiland. The aim is to convince consumers to withdraw their notice of termination and stay on board.
“In most cases, switching providers can save a lot more money,” says Weiland. But here you have to differentiate depending on the contractual partner.
While it is almost always worthwhile with the smartphone tariff to change providers after two years, in practice this is not so good with pay TV – Sky customers who want to continue to see the offer must finally extend their contract with the company. “Sky in particular is known for offering its customers low-priced offers once they have terminated the contract,” says Benjamin Weiland.
“The closer the contract comes to an end, the better the offers become”
However, if you miss the cancellation, the price can rise very sharply. Even if you want to remain a Sky subscriber for longer than the minimum contract term, the termination is worthwhile because Sky lures you with more favorable conditions. “The closer the contract comes to an end, the better the offers,” says Weiland. “Even on the last day, the best offer can be made.”
- 4. Handle return offers correctly
The first return offer usually takes place a few weeks before the end of the contract – either by post, but mostly by phone. “If you speak to the provider, you should make a note of the conditions presented and never accept the first offer,” advises Benjamin Weiland.
Instead, it is advisable to compare the notes with the current new customer offers and – when it comes to a smartphone tariff – to look for competing products. “If you negotiate with Sky, you should wait for a better offer that is very likely to come,” says the expert.
One should behave differently with a smartphone tariff, after all – according to Weiland’s experience – an extension with the current provider is rarely worthwhile. “Here you should dare to make a brazen counter offer – only then may it be worth staying. More than a ‘no’ from the provider cannot happen anyway, ”Weiland continues.5. Third-party offers are worthwhile with the smartphone contract
If the contract is actually terminated, a new provider must be found. Anyone who does a little research on the Internet will quickly find out that there are providers who offer cheaper prices than those shown on the websites of Telekom or Vodafone.
“Telekom sees itself as a premium provider because it has the best mobile network in terms of space,” explains Weiland. That is why she demands high prices for a contract through her homepage. Vodafone is following a similar path, the expert continues.
However, there are providers such as Mobilcom-Debitel, Klarmobil, Otelo or Freenet Mobile, who also offer or broker contracts in the D network and at the same time charge lower prices.
Either because they are third-party providers who rent the providers’ networks and then charge cheaper prices. Or because they act as intermediaries and offer the original contracts of the large companies in this way, but sometimes require significantly less additional payment for smartphones. In this case, the cell phone comes from the agent, the contract partner is nevertheless Telekom, Vodafone or O2.
“There is often an inhibition threshold for consumers to conclude a contract with third-party providers, but many of the companies have been on the market for a long time and work seriously,” says Benjamin Weiland.
Contrary to Telekom and Vodafone, O2 also frequently offers its tariffs at special prices on its own website, says Weiland.
- 6. Use campaign days like Black Friday
Singles Day, Black Friday or Cyber Monday are not just popular days for online shoppers in China or the USA. In this country too, companies are luring with campaigns around these campaign days. “This also applies to smartphone tariffs,” says bargain expert Weiland. If the time is right, it is worth looking for a new tariff on such days.
- 7. Sim-only contracts offer great savings potential
Customers who do not choose a new smartphone with a new contract after two years have great savings potential. “There are many so-called sim-only offers where customers can get allnet flat rates and large data volumes for less than ten euros a month,” says Benjamin Weiland.
Often it can also be worthwhile to take out a cheap sim-only tariff and to buy a used or refurbished smartphone. Anyone doing some research here will find the best offer depending on their own needs.
- 8. The termination is also worthwhile for the DSL contract
Even if there are significantly fewer providers with DSL than with smartphone tariffs, it is worth canceling the current contract – even if you do not want to switch. “In this way, you can renegotiate the conditions after the end of the term,” says Weiland. If you do not cancel, the price increases significantly in most cases.
The savings potential is lower than with smartphone tariffs – but money can also be saved here over a period of two years. While some consumers already terminate the contract in good time and also change providers, the procedure with the DSL provider is less common, says Weiland.
The procedure is identical to the smartphone tariff: cancel and wait for the first return offer – and then negotiate about the conditions offered and the service.
- 9. When it comes to electricity, it is always worth changing every year
Consumers should do something differently with the electricity provider, as Benjamin Weiland reports. “It is worth changing the provider consistently every year,” he says. The reason for this: The companies offer high discounts in the first year. After this period, however, it becomes expensive.
“A lot of consumers are worried that changing electricity providers is complex or that they will have to do without electricity for a few days – but that’s a mistake,” says Weiland. According to the expert, the new provider takes over the entire processing of the change and even terminates the existing contract.
There are also no days when you are without a power supply. If a provider does not deliver electricity for whatever reason, you can obtain it from the standard operator of the region. This also applies if the selected provider would have to stop operating.
Another advantage of the electricity contract: “I can already conclude a contract here that should only start in a few months,” says Weiland. So if you find an offer today that you definitely want to take advantage of, but still have an existing contract for a few months, you can vary the start date of the new contract.
Nevertheless, there is something to consider when choosing a provider. “You shouldn’t choose a contract partner who demands a high advance payment. If this company gets into trouble, the consumers’ money will be gone, ”warns Weiland.
- 10. An annual change is also worthwhile with car insurance
Even with car insurance, haggling with the current provider is not recommended. “But whoever changes here every year can also save a lot,” recommends Weiland. However, especially with insurance companies, it is not only important to pay attention to the price. After all, in the event of damage, it is about getting the right services.
- 11. “Overcome the inner bastard”
Contracts can be canceled or changed quickly and easily online today. The “paperwork” suspected by many consumers usually does not materialize. “You have to overcome the inner bastard once and make a change. Then you know how easy it is, ”advises Weiland. And how much money can be saved.