Vodafail by another name: 3 Mobile demands payment during overseas trip.

Brace yourselves – this is a rant.

In my opinion, mobile phone companies are right down their with real estate agents and used car salesmen. But let me lay out the facts and you can decided for yourself.

After receiving a wedding invitataion, we decided to pack up the kids and head to Wellington for a 10 day holiday. We’re self-employed with clients who rely on us, so by ‘holiday’ I mean ‘time away from the office’. We accept that our lifestyle means our phones come with us and so does the laptop. Then again, we didn’t have to get annual leave approved.

As bad luck would have it, someone’s server decided to have an inexplicable brain fade on the first business day of our holiday. This meant a number of phone calls and SMS messages over a 48hr period. A big number. Fine, that’s the cost of having your own business and deciding to go overseas, without staff back home to handle it. I was expecting to pay a premium for it.

Our first contact from 3 was an SMS asking us to contact them about our bill, currently $338.  No biggy, I thought, I knew why the charges were high. Great customer service that they are warning me that there might be something dodgy going on, or I may be unexpectedly be racking up mobile data charges by putting my happy snaps on Facebook.

The next day, Tony missed a phone call then I received a call from a blocked number. The Indian call centre wanted to talk to me about the large bill. But because I couldn’t remember the PIN number I had set on the account 9 years ago, though I could tell them a million details about the account, they refused to talk to me about the account. I explained the situation to them but they refused to listen.

Two minutes later, we both receive an SMS stating we needed to call 3 urgently about our $883 mobile bill or our account would be terminated. W T F ?

So, Tony calls them and explains the situation, to be told the following: 3 Mobile are allowed to demand immediate payment of a large overseas roaming spend or terminate our account. Note, we are on a business post-paid account here. And apparently this little clause is in the terms and conditions (not that I can find them on their website). So, we’re out sightseeing with our family, with no access to the internet and facing termination of our mobile service WHICH IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR BUSINESS.

We asked for them to extend the deadline until close of business the next day, still extremely unhappy about the whole thing.

Once we’ve returned to our friend’s house, I jump on the internet and can find no way to pay our account. Being post-paid, it’s normally taken out by 3 via direct debit, so I have no BPAY history to them. I could do a new BPAY payment if I had the reference number off my bill .. which hasn’t been sent to us and I don’t have last months because it’s back in BRISBANE. It’s not even viewable on the ‘My 3’ website.

Rock, meet hard place.

I’m not a young backpacker who doesn’t know how global roaming works. I still think it’s a complete rort that telcos get away with such huge roaming charges. I understand there’s extra admin between the visited country and the home country, to get your costs back to your home bill. But the extra amount they charge for that is ridiculous. This is Australia & New Zealand we are talking about, 3 & Vodafone (or should I say Vodafone & Vodafone).

But to demand that the phone user pay that amount immediately or be disconnected is complete bullying tactics. And to point out ‘it’s in the contract conditions’ is a complete waste of time and a cop-out. I’m still yet to find this clause, by the way.

So, that’s the first part of the saga. I’ll update you when I have more to add. Right now I’m starting down the barrel of another phone call back to 3 to hand over my credit card details presumably to pay the bill that I’ve just incurred. So much for monthly post-paid.

Let this be a warning, all you business owners. If you ever go overseas and, heaven forbid’ actually need to use your mobile phone for business purposes, you better keep your credit card handy and stand by for the call from the accounts department. Because, like me, I’m guessing you won’t have read all of the fine print of the mobile service you signed up for 9 years ago.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *