Tuesday 16 December 2014


When I write about consumer issues it’s not because I think my problems are unique, but rather because I know that so many of you suffer cruel inequities and hideous iniquities as the customers of large corporations.

My credit card’s expiry date came and a new card was issued. Same number, same name, just a new expiry date and authorisation code. So off to the web went this obedient little punter, updating my card details on various websites, all very easy-peesy lemon squeezy. On one site I was a little disturbed to find that the expiry date had already been altered. Cookies? Bots? Who knows what cyber-creatures managed that feat?

Then my monthly bill arrived from eMobile, with twice the normal charge, so I called them up to find out why, only to be told that the direct debit on my credit card had been declined. They suggested I should call my credit card company.

Straightaway I did just that, as I needed to know if my card had been compromised. I wanted neither a black mark on my credit rating, nor to pay for a brand new three piece suite for a bunch of criminal skangers.

After a rake of menus I spoke to somebody who told me that no attempt had been made to take money from me for that bill on those dates. There had been no decline as there had been no request. 
They said I needed to speak to eMobile about it. 

So off I went back to eMobile, remembering tales of woe told long ago by my good friend The Body, who had many travails with this crew in the past. More menus came and went, more shifting me around departments, until I had a Homer Simpson moment. D’oh! It’s the card’s expiry date! Could that be the cause of the problem?

“Oh yes!” said eMobile, “That’ll be it.” “Great! So can I update my credit card with you now?”

“No, we’ll have to send you out a Credit Card Direct Debit Mandate form in the post.”

“You’re kidding me. But I already have a Direct Debit with Eircom and when I signed up for Emobile you took loads of security checks, and anyway, here I am trying to pay you, not defraud anyone, but you’re insisting it has to be done by mail? Can’t I just go on your website and do it, as I did with everyone else?”

“Well, you could because our website does have that functionality. But at the moment that functionality isn’t working.”

“Sorry, did you just say that the functionality isn’t working?”

“Yes, that’s what I said.”

“Do you realise how crazy that sounds?”

“Yes, I do. You're not the first person to query this procedure.”

So they said they’d transfer me to the department who would send me the form but instead they cut me off, so I had to call back and plough through god knows how many menus to get to the right department, who assured me they’d send a Credit Card Direct Debit Mandate form.

Several days later a Bank Account Direct Debit form arrived in the mail from eMobile, which I refused to fill in with my credit card details, as I didn’t want to give them the opportunity to say I’d filled in the wrong form.

 Unlike every other company I deal with, eMobile were the only ones insisting on this arcane procedure, while simultaneously making it impossible to carry out their instructions. Yet again I called them, paid my bill over the phone (oh yeh, they have the functionality to take money from my credit card over the phone, but not the functionality to update that card!), and then I once again called their Customer Care to explain how frustrated I felt and could they please make sure to send me the right form this time?

“Yes, I’ll just transfer me to the right department!” they said and promptly cut me off again, leaving me to do all of the above all over again, only to receive a few days later yet another bloody Bank Account Direct Debit form.

At this stage I lost it. I’ve got better things to do with my life than be made miserable by eMobile’s incompetence, so I called to make an official complaint.

That was when the woman at eMobile Customer Care said there was no telephone number for complaining. I could register a complaint online or send a letter.

For once your colyoomist was temporarily lost for words.

“So you’re a telephone company with no telephone number for customer complaints. Can you see how that looks to me, as a customer?”

“Well you can complain online.”

“Yes I can, but if I were a 75 year-old living alone with no internet I’d have to write a letter, to which I am sure there’d be no reply. Is it even legal to deny your customers the right to speak to a representative of your company?”

By now I knew I was going to write about this debacle, to speak up for myself and all you other customers who are treated like pooh by corporations every day.

As I sit here I’m waiting to hear back from the Head of Communications at Eircom, who seemed unaware that eMobile customers did not have access to a complaint telephone number.

Well, in a world where telephone companies don’t have telephone numbers, I suppose it’s naive of me to assume that communications companies communicate with themselves.

We live on a planet that is ruled by Corporate Culture. As customers, we are nothing but an income stream.

They don't want to hear from us. They don't want to have to deal with us.

Please, don’t put up with that attitude. Speak out, make a noise, be a pain in their corporate behinds.

Instead of us fitting in with all their instructions, it’s time they started to serve us.


©Charlie Adley

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