Please don't give me a 'courtesy call'

4 June 2010

Last week I was hard at work when I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognise. Usually I ignore these types of calls, but I am looking for a new flat to rent so thought it might be an estate agent getting back to me about a query I had made.

I was wrong. "Hello Miss Armstrong it is Johnny calling from Vodafone, how are you today?" said the voice at the end of the phone. I replied that I was fine, thank you, and mentally readied myself for whatever he was about to say.

Johnny informed me he was calling to see how I was getting on with my new handset, which, incidentally, I have had for months. Much as I didn't want to get dragged into a long conversation about the merits (or lack of merits) of my Samsung touchscreen phone, I have been having a few problems with it and thought this was as good a time as any to air them.

Unfortunately, Johnny wasn't actually interested in my issues and told me there was a manual online, where I would find the answers to all my woes. The only problem was, I had already looked at the online manual and found it largely lacking the in-depth advice I required.

Johnny continued: "Miss Armstrong, as a loyal and worthy customer of Vodafone we would like to offer something back." 

Ooh, I thought, here we go, something to brighten my day at last. Vodafone was offering me free phone insurance, covering anything from damage to unauthorised phone calls up to £1,000 and theft.

Again, that sounded great, particularly since I don't currently have phone insurance - I have always thought it to be a waste of money. But there was a snag.

Before even taking a breath Johnny rushed on to say the paperwork would arrive at the address Vodafone had on its system for me, which I had already said was incorrect at the start of the call.

"Hang on," I said, finally giving the call my full attention, "You've only said it's free for the first month. What about after that?"

After the first month I would be charged £6.99 per month he admitted, exactly the type of charge I have always tried to avoid.

Johnny tried to lessen this blow with the fact that there was no contract and when the papers coming through the door, I could call and cancel the policy at any time.

"What is the point in that?" I exclaimed. 

As far as I'm concerned, this is just another example of companies hoping that in your distracted state you will sign up to something and then forget to cancel it. 

In this instance Vodafone already had my card details so wouldn't even have to prompt my awareness by asking for them.

Needless to say I ended the call promptly, probably something I should have done right at the start. Was I very naive in thinking a company was calling me purely to check that I was a satisfied customer? Should we expect nothing less? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, or about any similar experiences you've had.