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The future’s not bright with THREE either

I have just had the most terrible afternoon at the hands of THREE – with what is laughingly called “Customer support”.

After having owned an iPhone 4 with THREE for two years it came time a few weeks ago to upgrade the phone.  I chose the Samsung Galaxy S4.

This was promised for 26th of April as an upgrade, in writing – for no charge other than a £4.99 service charge.

Accordingly I sold my iPhone. That left me phoneless after the 29th of April. I added 3 days “just to be sure”.

I stayed in on Friday 26th of April only to discover that THREE’s supplier (Samsung) had messed up – of course that’s still THREE’s problem – they were supposed to inform customers of the delay by text. They did not inform me.

The next promise which came via their Twitter “support” was “By 3rd of May” – well, on the 3rd of May, after waiting in most of the say I sat there for hours on the phone to THREE having failed to get anywhere with their online support or Twitter. No emails, nothing.

I started the call earlier Friday afternoon on 3rd. – Around 2.50pm I started the conversation with “support” – you’ll see the number and timings below in my phone bill. Firstly they could find no record of my upgrade in their account – at which point I became less than patient as I was sitting in front of the upgrade document and delivery date with my personal details. I really wish I’d recorded the whole thing.

Then they found my account and started telling me the upgrade was £45 for the handset – I said that was NOT the case and I had my order to prove it.

Finally they said they’d upgrade the call to a higher level (THREE store support line) – and promptly put me on to the wrong people who AGAIN apologised and put me on hold.

I’d now been on the phone so long I ran out of Skype credit – and had to ring back. I got the SAME QUESTIONS ALL OVER AGAIN… at this point I asked them to upgrade the call to someone responsible – and there I sat, paying for a call to listen to music, again.

By 4.43pm I was starting to grow weary talking to the THREE Store support line. I’d been on this for around 2 hours now, at 5p per minute.

Once again they put me through to the WRONG department who were ONCE AGAIN going to put me through to the right department. More music – more cost, more time.

The new guy had my NAME down as something else…. he said I cancelled the phone – but the name he had for me was wrong… someone I’ve never heard of – we tried again…

I asked if I was on candid camera but I don’t think he’d ever heard of that… so then they found my proper account (I only have one)  –  5pm – no chance of a delivery – all of this checking and getting wrong despite my postcode, date of birth, name, phone number asked for TIME and TIME AGAIN.

Next, it seemed I’d been connected to the wrong department – he put me on hold while he connected me to the “right department..”

You ready for this….

“Please listen carefully to the following details…..” _ – I’m was then told by an automated female that the home broadband system costs money to use (WHAT???) – I’m not using it… I was wondering to myself… I’m getting this message for WHAT reason? I’m on a landline number… what does this have to do with broadband??

Someone was taking the mick…surely…

and – at the end of that – the machine terminated the call.

Start again…

5.05pm – “we’re getting a lot of calls right now….” –

5.08pm – I talked to someone who then checked and… He AGREED I’ve upgraded…. agreed it should have been there 26th –then  – name, date of birth, postcode. But then.. he could not find the upgrade. Maybe there was a language issue here – I certainly was not talking to anyone local.  I told him again “I have the ORDER IN FRONT OF ME”.

He was going to have to talk to the online upgrade department – he could not get to my details because I upgraded online…  more music at 5.12pm

5.14pm – he was going to connect me to the upgrade department. More music – same track I’d been listening to all afternoon.

5:17 “thank you for your patience – upgrades are busy at the minute… online have no idea whatsoever”. He transferred my call…. I was supposed to tell them I upgraded online – tell them to do a conference if they are going to transfer the call and not just to pass me on” – all of that went straight over the next fellow’s head.

5.19pm – “Your call is in a queue and will be answered shortly”.

5.19pm – “All our advisers are currently busy”…

5.24pm – another Indian lady wanted my postcode, date of birth, shoe size…. and then…. she could find no record of the upgrade – for the 4th time I pointed out that I was sitting in front of the order from THREE sent on 15/4/2013 – “Your ORDER” – with the details of my upgrade that should have arrived on 26/4 and then again today…

It was now 5.28pm – I was looking for email addresses of the other large phone companies so they could share a laugh… by now I was overtaken by feelings of vengeance – how can any company be so incompetent.. but it got worse…

5.33pm – Mr Scargill – please bear with me for a few moments…… it’s a different channel – we have a different stock availability to other departments – I will have a chat to my manager…… (she had the whole sordid history in front of her and did not want to transfer me again….)  music…

5.38pm – music continued….I could have done with coffee but could not leave the computer or I might’ve missed a response…

5:44 – I could not quite understand what she was saying – apparently her manager said the deal had CHANGED and there’s a £49 charge for the phone… that’s not on my order, I said and it’s not what the web says either…  and she wanted me to wait until Wednesday… I told them I would not pay a charge for the phone and I needed to get imageone the next day as I’d be away on business all the following week. Then there I was, back on hold while she talked to her manager….or went to the toilet – or whatever excuse.

Meanwhile at Carphone Warehouse… no charges for the phone – AND a Bluetooth speaker thrown in…

5.46pm – she could send a phone out and I would get it Wednesday… or I could wait 48 hours by which point it would be a bank holiday – she did not know that – but then why would someone half way across the world know that. I imagined waiting another week…

Nothing back from the online support on Twitter and no-one was reading the Facebook site by the look of it.

5:50pm I was back listening to music while she upgraded the call – again.

6.00pm “To be honest and precise with you there is nothing I can do from my end as this is done online” – I first asked him to clarify that I was not hearing things, then tried to explain I’d been on for two hours… nothing…. … this guy was some kind of machine perhaps, unable to move out of a pre-programmed route. AFTER TWO HOURS…NOTHING – ZILCH – a man with no power to do anything.

I put the phone down rather than lose it completely – I needed coffee.

Here are the phone costs to THREE’s ABYSMAL support to achieve nothing.


Saturday morning I rang the THREE store in Gateshead and indeed the phones were in stock – they needed me to confirm that an upgrade was not already in place. I assumed after that fiasco that an upgrade WAS still in progress – after all I had the order in my hand.

I went online to cancel the upgrade… no way to do that and guess what – live support isn’t available at the weekend.

I rang the 333 number and an Indian fellow listened carefully after taking my mobile number, full name, postcode and date of birth – again. He then transferred me to an advisor (music) who then took my mobile number, full name, postcode and date of birth – again. She put me on hold while she transferred me to the correct department.  When I got through and after taking my mobile number, full name, postcode and date of birth – again, they said this was the wrong department and would have to transfer me.

Finally they put me through to someone who checked my account – again and said there was no record of an upgrade in progress. I was very specific – does this mean I can go to the THREE store and simply upgrade the phone. YES SIR, he said. Of course if the PREVIOUS operator was correct, they’d have no record of my order anyway so he was probably talking tripe.

I went along to the Gateshead store who confirmed that online upgrades might be free – but THEY would have to charge me £49 for the phone. Of course I was being served by a new trainee, his only advantage over the people on the phone being a clear English voice. Well, to be fair to them, the fiasco was not THEIR fault. I took the phone and they helpfully gave me the address for complaints to write to so that I might endeavour to get the £49 and my phone bill back.

Monday 6th May I received a call from the THREE complaints centre – and received exactly the same nonsense as before, after giving my name, postcode and date of birth (remember – they rang me!!) the Indian gentleman proceeded to tell me why they could NOT help me, why they could NOT refund the money. He told me that this was because I had cancelled the online order. He seemed utterly oblivious to the fact that I’d cancelled it BECAUSE Three online could not complete the order for which they’d sent me confirmation on 15th April. I ended the call, this was pointless.

Tuesday 21st May I was sitting in Spain minding my own business when a call came in – a nice friendly lady from Scotland representing THREE. They had received my letter. She explained that she was investigating why they seemed to be unaware of my order at times – I pointed to the Facebook site – lots of people seem to have come across similar issues with bad communication from THREE.  Anyway, at last the voice of reason, she’s refunding what I paid at the store plus my phone calls. My time will never be recovered but I guess that’s at least a reasonable attempt to resolve the issue – personally I’d be sacking the calls centre as well but I guess that’s a step too far. So now I have my lovely S4 phone, they did help me to get the phone working on the Home Signal box… and all’s well…

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