I have had a mobile phone contract with Tesco Mobile for many years now, and earlier this week I came to the end of my latest two year contract with them.
YIPPEE!!! This meant that I was able to call them and negotiate a snazzy new phone, plus also get the obligatory 'loyalty bonus' that these companies always offer you when you tell them that you are going to switch to one of their competitors.
Over the last few years, I've been happy with the service that Tesco Mobile have provided. And the price they charge is also reasonable. So I had more-or-less decided that I would stick with them, regardless of what they offered me.
But still, there's no harm in trying to negotiate a better deal when you are in a position of strength. And having the ability to cancel the contract and switch supplier is certainly a very strong negotiating position to be in as a customer!
So a few days ago I called Tesco Mobile and explained that my 24 month contract had just run out, and I was interested to know what they could offer to keep my loyalty.
Their response: "No problem sir. We can offer you an upgraded phone for the same price you are currently paying, plus also a loyalty bonus of either 100 extra free minutes of talk time or 250 megabytes of extra free data."
"Are you sure that's all you can offer to keep me loyal?" I replied.
After all the usual fake shenanigans of the customer service rep "checking with his manager" I was eventually also offered an additional £10 credit which would be added to my next bill.
Fair enough. This was a very good offer, and as I have mentioned already, I would have stayed with Tesco Mobile regardless of any extras that I could negotiate with them (although obviously I wasn't going to tell them that!!)
But there was still a choice to be made. What new phone did I want? I just couldn't decide, and I needed more time to do my research. So I agreed in principal to their offer, but said I would ring back the next day to confirm everything and select my new phone.
And this is where the problems begin.
The next day I called back and (speaking to a different customer service adviser) I gave my reference number and explained that I'd like to go ahead with the deal as agreed.
Their response: "What have you been offered, sir?"
My reply: "...erm, don't you know? It should all be on your computer system."
Their reply: "The representative you spoke to yesterday didn't put anything down in writing, and he's not at work today."
So we had to go through the entire negotiation rigmarole all over again, of me explaining what had been agreed the previous day with the other customer service rep. All fine and dandy until we get to the bit about the £10 credit on my account.
Them: "Sorry sir we can't give you the £10 credit."
Me: "Why not? That's what your colleague offered me yesterday. Don't you believe me? Why don't you listen to the recording of our phone call?"
Them: "We only record phone calls for training and monitoring purposes... blah, blah, blah, blah..."
I won't bore you any further with the conversation (you can probably guess how it went). But suffice to say that in the end I got them to agree to a £7.50 credit on my account. It's not quite what I had been offered by the other customer service adviser, but as I indicated earlier, I am still happy with the deal and I'm now looking forward to my snazzy new phone arriving tomorrow morning.
The point of this story
This article is not intended as a dig at Tesco Mobile. I have been a customer of theirs for the last four years, and I have just signed up for another two years. I still think I have got a very good deal, and I would happily recommend them to anyone looking for a new mobile phone contract.
But a lot of time, and stress, and hassles, could have been prevented if only the first customer service rep had bothered to record the details of our conversation in writing.
The lesson is simple: when dealing with customers on the phone, if you negotiate a special deal, then always keep a record of everything in writing.