Rants on terrible customer service in the UK (Voxi UK, Uber Eats UK, etc.); great customer service in Dubai

One thing I’ve come to realize after moving to the UK earlier this year is that the customer service here is terrible. I came to the UK from Dubai and I used to think customer service there was poor, but now I feel bad for feeling that way and would like to apologize to the likes to Etisalat (ISP, mobile phones), Du (ISP, mobile phones), Zomato (food delivery), Emirates NBD (bank), and countless others that I’ve forgotten.

In Dubai most of these services have a phone number I can call on or an email address I can write to. Moreover, if I call I get someone on the phone in 10-15 mins of waiting; and if I email they are likely to just pick up the phone and call me back (which I used to find irritating because I’d rather communicate via email which is why I chose that medium in the first place). Moreover I could send our a tweet to any of these services and expect a quick reply; and usually a follow up from someone higher up in the chain asking if the issue was resolved satisfactorily (especially Zomato, thank you!). Some of these services (e.g. Zomato) would again take provide you with extra credits and an apology when something went wrong.

Fast forward to the UK and I’ve missed this excellent customer support.

Some weeks ago I signed up for Virgin Media and was on phone for some 1.5 hours. I didn’t even have an issue; the delivery date for the equipment which I ordered was pushed forward by some weeks and I just wanted to check if there was a way of preponing it or perhaps I could collect from somewhere. They have no email option, no web form, they don’t reply to your tweets. The first time I called they took all my details (after multiple steps in their IVR) and gave an option to send me an SMS so I can log a case. Sure, that works for me so I chose that option; but the SMS they sent was with a link to their support page and frequently asked questions. Useless! So I had to repeat the process again and stay on hold for the 1.5 hours I mentioned (understandable, it is COVID time after all) and thankfully the customer support representative I got hold of was super helpful and changed the delivery date.

Next up is Uber Eats. Which has been good so far, but couple of weeks ago the delivery person couldn’t find our house so he tried to call us but couldn’t make the call for some reason (no idea why), then he started a chat session and we replied and were communicating with him to explain some nearby landmarks etc., but the person just cancelled the order and we were left without an option. Called up the restaurant and they couldn’t do anything as it was not their delivery person. Tried to log a case through the Uber app and there’s no immediate responses like with Zomato… you have to log a case and someone will get back. Which they did, but again it was no conversation – just a statement that it’s Uber Eats’ policy that if a driver can’t get hold of our address in 7 minutes or so they can cancel the order without a refund. Whoa! I can’t resume the conversation coz the chat window doesn’t let us do so, so I reached out via Twitter. Got a response a few days later asking me to use the chat functionality in the app (or maybe via the website – but it’s the same chat window), and when I said that isn’t working they just keep pointing us to the same.

So that’s £20 wasted (not to mention having to hastily make other dinner arrangements) with no recourse for help. Is it my fault the driver couldn’t find the place? Nope. But do I have a venue to address this? Nope! Uber Eats just gives you a canned reply and that’s it.

Needless to say me and wife uninstalled the Uber Eats app. Am not supporting them any more. I don’t mind delayed orders or things going wrong, but I do mind not being treated properly when I have a concern.

Which brings me to today. Some two weeks ago I decided to move my mobile number from EE to Voxi/ Vodafone as the former has poor coverage in our house and the latter (which my wife has) seems to be better. The move processed seemed simple. Sign up at Voxi, get the PAC code from EE and give to Voxi, set a date for the move (yesterday)… easy peasy. I even mentioned to my wife that it’s so convenient and user friendly! Voxi sends you an email too saying the move is all set for the 20th (yesterday), it will happen between 11am-5pm, worst case by midnight… nothing to worry.

Of course it didn’t go that way. My old EE number stopped working yesterday, but the new Voxi SIM still had a temporary number from them and not my old number. Again, I checked their website to see what options I have – none. Can’t email, can’t call… it’s either Twitter or Facebook Messenger or a Web Chat. I tried Web Chat, and boy was that a mess! A bunch of canned response, and when the Bot gave up and said I could click a button to speak to an advisor (a human) nothing happened. The button just wouldn’t work. So it was Facebook Messenger or Twitter.

(A digression here: why do these companies expect their customers to be on Facebook or Twitter? I happened to be on Twitter, but I am not on Facebook and there’s no way I am going to create a Facebook account just to log a case! I could very well not be on Twitter and instead be a Mastodon or similar user – what then? Don’t assume everyone’s on one of these, especially if your Web Chat is rubbish).

Anyways, Twitter it was. I sent a tweet… waited & got a reply saying it should have worked, did I restart the device etc. I said I had, and even better I also moved phones (iPhone to Android) to see if that helps. Waited, then I got a reply saying let’s wait till midnight and if that doesn’t help he’ll raise a call with the Porting team today morning. That was fine by me, so I left it for the day.

Today morning I checked and the number is still not working. Started tweeting again and now I am being told I’ll have to wait till the 24th (Tuesday) to get it working. Since the porting didn’t work for whatever reason (no explanations as yet, so frustrating!) and apparently you can’t port numbers on a weekend, it will only start on the 23rd (Monday) and be done by 24th. Crazy!

There was a sorry for the inconvenience message, but that’s it. How is it normal for a service company to tell me it’s ok to wait from Friday to Tuesday midnight (about 5 days) without a working phone number?! Thankfully I don’t use the phone number for making calls so I am less concerned with that, but I do get SMSes and stuff (especially multifactor for say when I login to Amazon or other services, or SMSes from couriers regarding delivery & collection) so that’s simply not done for me. Of course I have been tweeting to them all morning saying that won’t work, what are my options, please can someone just call me about this… but nope, no replies. So frustrating!

To me if you can’t listen to my issues, nor have the decency to just call or offer my a phone number to call on, it is as if you don’t respect me as a person enough to care about my issues. I am your customer, and if I am not happy with something I need to be heard.

I work in IT, so you could say I am in a service industry of sort. If email, or Citrix, or phones are down, my users expect to be heard. Even if I will take 2-3 days to fix the issue, and even if the issue is not something created by me, they’d still want someone to talk to and in our IT department we have mechanisms for that. We have a Service Delivery Manager whose role it is to communicate with the users; we have Service Desk people whom these users can call and even though the answer is going to be please wait for 2-3 days they at least have an option to just vent it out to someone. Sometimes the particular thing the user wants may not need waiting 2-3 days – perhaps the Service Desk person can offer an alternative – and by giving users the option to call us we are helping them however we can. My IT department does not work like Voxi wherein the users have no proper channels of communicating with us, and we just tell them this is what it is – deal with it!

I think what’s really been eye opening for me is that when I was in Dubai and I had colleagues from the UK who’d complain about how “poor” the customer service is in Dubai or make fun of the Indians or Filipinos who actually cared to help out, I always thought maybe these people had a point and that in the UK customer support is probably excellent… which is why they are complaining about it here in Dubai. Now I realize it was nothing than just wanting to complain about the “natives”.

I admit I’ve only been here for 7 or 8 months, and it’s only been a handful of incidents, so this entire thing is just a biased rant that could be unfounded; if I do find later that customer support in the UK is actually great I’ll be sure to update this post. But for now, I can’t wait to get that number onto Voxi and then file for a transfer back to EE. I took a look at EE’s website and at least they have a phone number to call on… so that’s plus points for them straight-away over Voxi.