| | | Effective PR

You say you need a copywriter. You need someone to fix what you have, before adding new stuff.

Open Letter to ( CEO ): 
Mr Lutz Schuler
Open Letter to ( Company ): 
O2, part of Virgin-02
Internet / Bromley
Nigel Morris-Cotterill

At what point does the customer give up and say "this has to be a con?"

For me, it was the point when 02 sent an SMS saying that benefits that were advertised and confirmed by a shop assistant were denied.

But that's the spoiler. How we got there is a story of either willingly stringing customers along or of utter ineptitude.

Full Details: 

Travelling, a few days after arriving in the UK, I wanted a local SIM card for my phone.

As 02 is the approved partner of my home provider and I had had no coverage problems, I decided to get a pre-paid card from them. And I looked up on the web what cards were available and how to get them.

The best offer was that if I ordered a card online and had it posted to me I would get GBP10 free credit. If I went into a shop and picked up the card, I didn't get the free credit. So, naturally, I had the card delivered.

I tried to activate it online, On the activation page was another offer. If I signed up, I got a further credit of GBP5. So I signed up. Nothing except that I was then told I'd signed up for marketing messages. I don't want them. Because I don't want them, they are spam. I haven't been able to find out how to opt out. Nor have I had my five pounds credited.

Then I found out, by reading the packaging that the card came in, that I get my GBP10 when I top up the card. And it's not really a GBP10 credit: they give me a "big bundle" which they say is worth GBP20.

And then the bundle has to be renewed in a month. The additional GBP10 is not, as seemed logical from the marketing material, carried forward.

So, that's a bit of a swizz. What it all meant was that despite a "free" GBP15, the card didn't work unless and until I paid.

OK, so I'll pay.

But 02 won't let me pay online. Why? Because they restrict card payments to UK banks (mine is) and UK addresses (mine isn't). And you can't insert an overseas address because the form requires a UK postcode which it then validates against a UK post-code directory.

So, 48 hours into the "get a SIM card" project, I was still unconnected.

The website offers various payment options including buying a voucher with cash or card. That means going to a shop.

Next day: go into town, find the shop (which isn't where the website says it is) and complain. Chap in shop: "I don't understand why it's such a big deal." He showed no signs of comprehension when I said "you go to work, you do what you do and you go home. Nothing disrupts that timetable. I account for my time. All the messing about has cost me time. Today, I have had to come into town to sort this out: my day falls like dominoes." But he tried to be helpful despite it being apparent and he confirming that he has had no training on what it says in the website. He messaged someone called "Sunny." Sunny confirmed that, if I bought a voucher and that activated the phone that the advertised benefits would be credited.

So that's what I did. Then I left the shop and headed home. On the way, I followed the instructions on the packaging: I sent a code to a specified SMS number. The packaging says "once you've topped up, we'll automatically swap £10 of your credit for your chosen Big Bundle."

I sent the code to the specified number. This was the reply: "it looks like this offer isn't for you...but you can still check out our other treats."

Well it is for me. I have the pieces of paper to prove it. And they all originate from 02.

Not only has the account not been credited with the additional GBP10, it hasn't been credited with the additional GBP5 either.

So, 02, Virgin Media, Telefonica and Liberty Media it seems to me that not only is your documentation a mess, but your systems are rubbish, too.

You are advertising for a copywriter. I suggest you stop writing and start reviewing everything from product design to functionality to coherence of your marketing.

And pay people what you promise them.


Nigel Morris-Cotterill