Customer Service & PR 101: Vodaphone attempts to silence disgruntled customer?

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Whoever is in the right, Vodaphone you know that the last thing you should be seen doing is leaning on a customer on the Net.

As if we need further proof of the commercial sector encroaching on the right to free speech, we have an interesting story from India.  Perhaps a sad indictment of todays business where they view the net and its billions of users with greedy eyes, wanting the attention drawn to their products but not wanting you to put your opinion forward unless it favours them.

Vodaphone is alleged by a customer (Dhaval Valia) to have sent a take down notice ordering removal of Facebook comments in regards to his unhappiness at the service Vodaphone provides.  What Vodaphone did not count on (and maybe shows ignorance on their part) is that the story would hit the web and expose even more people to the incident (certainly more so than the Facebook users who saw the customer’s complaint)

Vodaphone has released a statement with a slightly different take on the matter:

we have a situation with one of our customers, despite several efforts on our part. Owing to certain unusual and improper dealings and communications by the customer, especially with our women employees, we were forced to take legal advice in this matter. We do not wish to comment any further in this regard.

Source: http://www.cellular-news.com/story/49412.php

However its alleged on the part of Dhaval Valia that Vodaphone has accessed private conversations on Facebook as well as engaginng in:

Hacking, tapping and tracking the customer’s Internet activity is a criminal offence and Vodafone, prima facie, seems to have done exactly that. What’s even more grave is that they have passed this information to a third party, their legal agency, without my prior consent or approval…

and ends with:

..arm-twisting consumers into submitting to their faulty and misleading ways and thus acting against the rights of consumers

So is this a case of “arm twisting” to remove comments which Vodaphone doesn’t approve of?  The takedown notice had a time limit of 48 hours, but unfortunately I’d say it’s rather too late.

Don’t want less than favourable comments Vodaphone? Here’s a tip for you, make sure your customer is satisfied.  In todays connected world the one thing you don’t do is try to silence someone in a public forum – that’s Customer Service & PR 101, a fact that after recent stories about footballers and super-injunctions I am surprised you didn’t realize.

I think now Vodaphone has more damage control on its hands than merely a few Tweets or Wall posting.

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

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No P2P for Irish Vodaphone customers? – and then a change of mind?

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Vodaphone, the provider of mobile and broadband services has allegedly prohibited the use of p2p protocols on its networks albeit verbally.  Whilst a p2p blow to the phone service would be bad enough, the fact that they have taken the step to hit the desktop services aswel would be for many, a step too far.

Looking past the customers that would be driven to other providers who have not taken this stance, I would like to address a point raised by The Mad Hatter and where previously my own lack of foresight negated to consider a potential problem when p2p was linked with “piracy”.

About a month ago, fellow tech writer The Mad Hatter remarked in my comments section that the relationship created by anti-piracy groups between p2p and piracy had an intention of endangering the p2p ethos as a whole.  I dismissed this at the time and cited that many trackers (in the case of BitTorrent) which do not infringe copyright and for this reason, p2p will never be attacked itself.  Now it appears I was wrong (or certainly that there could be a distinct possibility in the foreseeable future).  The terms Vodaphone had stated seem to have no regard for the content of the data packets and have opted for a blanket ban on all p2p trafic – lawful, unlawful or anything inbetween.

The issue is was reported on Torrentfreak, and whilst this prohibition appears to be in the T&C only, not a physical ban users obviously still could make their own judgement call on if they followed it.

Torrentfreak (which reports on these matters) followed up the article with enquiries to Vodaphone and there now appears on the boards to be a clarification:

Hiya folks,
We’ve recieved clarification that there will be no restriction on peer to peer usage, the information there is incorrect, and is currently being removed.

Source: http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=67878640&postcount=31

Could this “clarification” be as a result of Torrentfreak enquiries and the realization that customers might move?  Could the original “prohibition” been placed to exonerate Vodaphone of any possible legal responsibility in the case of a civil action against one of its customers?  But more importantly was this “two liner” press release shoved out quickly as damage limitation for a change of heart?  Certainly the fact that the Vodaphone representative can’t spell “received” would suggest that to me thats the case.

Whilst Vodaphone may be a popular provider (and this matter now “resolved”- no pun intended) looking at recent complaints from customers it appears that there are signal issues in some area’s of the country with the Vodaphone service, so maybe regardless of their stance on p2p, you may want to visit here first.  This is a selection of allegations about poor Vodaphone service from that link:

I live in a rural area in North Dorset and have never had any luck with my Vodaphone dongle. I often have have to wait 2 mins or so to view a web page and sending emails are impossible. I took the laptop into town and tried to use it and It still was as bad and within view of a vodaphone mast!


Vodafone… Mobile “”Broadband?””,,,,, not even close


Ive been trying to use my vodafone mobile broadband dongle for two months. The average upload/download speed is 4.8kbs, thats right, kilobites. If youve been thinking of buying, dont waste your money on vodafone.

So regardless of the stance Vodaphone takes on P2p, it won’t really matter for these customers (if the complaints are accurate).

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.