Vodafone service improving

It happened again. 

When I woke up Monday morning my LTE connection was down. I checked – rebooted the router a few times without success other than at one point in time the router completely stopped responding and decided to not even try to boot anymore. I had to go on a quick business trip so I let my wife know she’ll not have internet at least until I return and hit the road.

From the car I called up @Vodafone help line and got connected quite fast. Nice lady talking to me; I explained the situation and also mentioned that I had complained about the router quite a few times already but did not even get an offer to replace. While we chatted she found out that the LTE base station covering my area was dead anyway, so I’d have to wait anyway. I agreed, came back to the router topic and she literally said:

“I can’t just decide to exchange the router, but I have access to it, will do some tests and then decide on proceedings”.

I mentioned I could not imagine her having access to a router that’s a) not booting and b) can’t connect as the LTE base station is down, but she was really sure she knows her business. She promised to keep me informed shortly and we hang up.

As expected I never heard back from her.

Tuesday evening (my wife kept nagging about not having internet at home) on my way home I called up @Vodafone again. Another nice lady (and this time I really mean it). I explained the situation again, she looked up the history, told me she could not understand why her colleague did not keep me informed, promised a fast exchange of the router (she even called back about 10 min later to confirm the new router was on its way), directly did a call routing from our home number to my cell,  gave us a nice data volume on my wife’s mobile to use as mobile hotspot until the new router arrives and was in general helpful, pleasant and knew her stuff.

Needless to say the new router arrived Thursday and I was back online after of course doing my in-house adjustments.

So @Vodafone: Thanks for getting better in support – I suggest you do a new survey on customer satisfaction, have the names of the service staff in the survey and start appropriate actions after receiving the rating.


Vodafone Reloaded

Sometimes I consider to just stop asking the “sense” question….VF – don’t get me wrong – I do like your services, otherwise I would not be a private customer for almost 20 years  and 20+ as a business customer – I just hope you take this (and the example I posted some days ago) as a hint to where you might want to consider changing / improving…

First things first (and this is really positive):

End of April last year Vodafone called me up to inquire if I would consider an early renewal / extension of my private cell phone contract; I had extended and upgraded (to get an iPhone for my better half who’s using this number) less than a year before that call. They made a really great offer: Same service, 10 EUR less per month plus a new phone. As our phones were pretty new I asked if I could have an iPad mini instead (again for my better half – she didn’t have a tablet at that time). VF responded extremely positively, I paid close to nothing for an iPad mini black 32GB.

An this was great until this Saturday!

Saturday morning my wife dropped the iPad mini – only about 30 cm, but it fell on the portable charger and damage on glass was pretty bad – all still functioning, but not usable. Well, Apple warranty of course out of question (dropped and out of warranty period), so I started to web-search and do some calls. It was actually the Apple web site reminding me my carrier might have a better repair service contract….so I called up Vodafone helpline….the following is a more or less literal transcript of the next 2 hours.

Call #1

– Get greeted by a friendly computer asking me for the reason of my call
– I started to answer – then moved over to press buttons – and got put on waiting line…..
– I dropped the waiting line after about 20 minutes and went for a coffee

Call #2 – about half an hour later

– Same friendly computer, I had learned my lesson and directly pressed buttons and then asked for human support
– 10 minutes listening to VF’s current favourite song
– Got handed over to department #1
– Went through credentials, explained situation, stated I am absolutely willing to pay for the repair
– Got a quote for the repair (60 EUR more than Apple’s quote) and – after breathing – asked if there was a chance to do an early renewal so I can get a new iPad instead
– Answer: Oh yes, that should be feasible – let me transfer you to department #2
– 10 minutes waiting line – same song….
– Department #2 answers phone, I explain the situation again and got this great answer: “I can only tell you which devices we have, It’s department #1’s job to find out if you qualify to get one – I will connect you back and you can tell them to please do their job!”
– Got transferred back – positive surprise: Instantly got connected to a new human being – less than 5 seconds waiting
– New person in department #1 – I explained situation, asked if I could get an early renewal to get a new iPad…….
– The guy was really nice, did a lot of research (I guess that’s what he’s been doing in between our seconds of conversations and 10s of minutes of listening to that great song)
– After about 15 minutes I had a positive feedback: Yes, you qualify for early renewal, you can get the iPad, but until you reach the date of official renewal it’s gonna be an additional 20EUR per month
– I did my quick math – that’s cheaper than the repair cost and confirmed my request and willingness to pay
– He went back to (I guess) filling out some forms….
– Got back to me about 5 minutes later with “All good – I’ll now transfer you to department #3 to finalise process and change contract”
– Transferral took about 5 minutes this time (great song btw if I forgot to mention…)
– Department #3 did all look-ups on my account, checked, confirmed, entered a lot of information in some screens and then transferred me to department #2 (yes, we’ve been there before) to finally select my gear
– I was now signalling my better half “All good – you’ll have a new pad in a few days”
– And now the final message from department #2: “You do not qualify for an iPad, as you only have a phone contract”
– Me: “Well, I ran through this with quite a lot of your colleagues in the last hour and they all said it’s good as the iPad was acquired through you”
– He: “That was a one-time marketing initiative, I can’t give you an iPad”
– Me” “Your colleague confirmed 2 minutes ago that all is good – I can – it’s all in the profile”
– He: I can only give you an iPad if you sign up for another data plan

I explained how satisfied I currently am with my VF plans (see my earlier post), hung up, and went for other options – getting the repaired iPad back mid next week…..

@Vodafone: Just to re-assure: This is not about making you look bad, as you do usually provide decent services (see above), but please check where you’d be willing to change…..


Ups and downs running a self-hosted private cloud connecting to public clouds

Probably old information for some of you – but maybe of interest for others 🙂

Recently I found some time to do some stuff on my @Synology box at home. The box is running a domain via DynDNS, contains all our music at home, of course stores a gazillion of pics, secured areas for my data and connects to the world via @Vodafone LTE.

Over the last couple of years I started to use quite a number of cloud services (dropbox, company internal one etc) and used a couple of tools to consolidate all that data.

In the recent update I did install Cloud Station on my Synology and connected it to the main cloud providers I use. Now the box is collecting all information I store somewhere and (now we get to the real good part) the apps on my devices allow me to choose which of the subfolder(s) should be replicated to the (mobile) device the app is running on.

Naturally I got a full replica on my MacBook but I e.g. do only replicate selected private stuff to my business iPad.

So basically CloudStation is a Cloud in itself collecting stuff from other clouds and users can decide what to replicate to devices – that’s the cool upside.

Downside of running this @home is of course the connection mentioned above.

About a year ago Vodafone approached me with “Chris, we now got LTE@Home in our area without the need for an external antenna!” – I had been waiting for this, so I signed up, after VF promised me to:

– Cancel my old phone line
— A few weeks after signing I got a mail that my phone contract can only be cancelled in May 2014
– Cancel my old broadband contract
—  Same as with phone contract
– Provide a reliable service

Status right now:

– After a couple of bad months the service is now stable for about 80% from Monday-Friday
– Weekends suck
– The router delivered (EasyBox) is a disaster – when you have to reboot (you almost always have to when connection was dropped due to unavailability of service) the box hangs for minutes to hours – sometimes need to reboot up to 10 times. I actually think that thing looks for connectivity before finalising boot process – works as designed…just bad design
– My old phone line got disconnected as promised (the day before my wedding)
– After 3 hours of rebooting (again – on the day before my wedding) phone worked again with my old number
– This week I got notice from my old broadband provider that the service had not been cancelled and is now automatically extended by another year – of course I can’t use it as the phone contract (ISDN) had been cancelled….Thank you VF !

If anybody of you suggests to call Vodafone helpline – don’t do, I might get mad. I spent hours with the guys – i.e. up to 2 hours in waiting line, then usually get greeted with “I hope you do have an external antenna” (I actually did buy one and it really helps – but the suggestion to use one because coverage in my area is so bad is at least kind of contradictory to the contract I have with the guys. 

My favourite discussion with VF helpline:
(1 hour waiting, 5 reboots, discussing the external antenna topic)…and then:
– VF: You need to reset your router
– Me: It has been working for 5 days, then one of your antenna masts failed (they had admitted already), so if this is up now – what you claim – why should I reset?
– VF: After failure of a mast it can happen a router needs to re-associated
– Me: But if you can see my router – you just confirmed – isn’t it more probable that your antenna mast is still not really doing what it should?
– VF: No, all working fine – and you just need 3 minutes to do the reset
– Me: No, I need an hour to do all my security settings again – I am not using the SSID and security settings that came with the box
– VF: ?
(the last two sentences continued for a while until I gave in and did the reset – followed by a new call)
– Me: Describing the  last hours
– VF (new person): Oh, that won’t work – that antenna in your area has been down for 2 days now…..

Anyway – just my evening rant….message should have been: If you have a reliable network provider, the synology cloud station really is fun and makes a lot of sense.