Friday, 11 October 2013

e2save followup: the question so secret they couldn't ask it

I wrote (in August) about a mobile phone company called e2save, who repeatedly contacted me saying they had a “query” but refused to give me any way of responding to that query (or even finding out what the query was) without paying for the privilege. They emailed me from a no-reply address and sent me texts with the reply option disabled. I don’t like one-sided communication, so I took to Twitter.

I repeatedly refused to fill in the e2save webform, on the grounds that the webform forces you to choose a category and none of the categories included “You keep telling me you have a query but you won’t tell me what it is.” (Also, I just hate webforms.)

I also repeatedly asked for e2save to stop telling me they need to ask me a question and just ask me the question. Sadly the social media people didn’t have access to any of my info and they were a bit obsessed with “verifying” my details. It’s Kafkaesque: I’m repeatedly told that this organisation wants to ask me a question, but before I can find out what the question is, I must pay money and jump through hoops to verify my identity.

Anyway, I wore them down and got a real email address out of them: I’m publishing it here because it’s not anywhere visible on their own website. So let this blog post be a public record of e2save’s contact details.

e2save email address:
e2save phone number: 01509 611818

I emailed the address in question, forwarding on their original message to me.

Hello there,

You sent me the below email earlier. I can't reply to it. I have no idea what details you want to check and I don't understand why you can't just put that information in the email instead of asking me to ring you. You've also texted me asking me to ring you.

I am not going to ring you.

If you want me to answer some questions, ring me or put them in an email I can reply to. You have my contact details already.

Here’s an extract from the reply I got:

I\'m very sorry for the difficulties you’ve had with your order and I would very much like to look into this for you; however in order for me to access your account and comply with the Data Protection Act, please can you confirm the following information:

- Full name

- Home address including postal code

- Transaction number / customer number

- Date of birth

- Make and model of the phone purchased

- Name of the bank used to purchase your phone or to set up the direct debit request

Once we have this information I’ll be happy to look into your query for you.

(If my query is simply "What's your query?" is it really my query or their query?)

So, before I can find out what information they want from me, I need to supply seven different pieces of information. That’s not to get an answer to any question of my own – it’s simply to find out what their question is. Like I said, Kafkaesque.

As it happened, their reply arrived while I was away, so it got my out-of-office autoreply...which bounced. So even if I had painstakingly replied with those seven pieces of information, my message would have gone into the ether anyway.

Back to Twitter. I stuck to my position: I will not spend a penny of my own money trying to help them get an answer to their question if they won’t do me the courtesy of telling me what the question is. After a flurry of direct messages they agreed to ring me.

A woman from e2save phoned me, asked me a long series of “security” questions to “verify” my account and then finally, finally asked the actual question. It was...

What was your previous address?

Yep. That was the top-secret question they couldn’t possibly put into words in an email, on Twitter or in a text message. That was the question that could only be put to me after extensive verification of my identity.

The woman on the phone explained that my previous address was needed for the credit check, but couldn’t explain why the question was so sensitive it needed to be kept secret from the person who was expected to answer it.

Another thing she couldn’t explain: the checks were apparently being done by T-Mobile to make sure I was a legit, credit-worthy customer. But I was already a T-Mobile customer anyway; e2save was just the intermediary switching me from one T-Mobile contract to another.

By now I felt that e2save had taken quite enough of my time and energy and I didn’t want them to have my money as well. So I said I wanted to cancel the contract. The e2save woman said I didn’t even have a contract to cancel, because I hadn’t passed the credit check, because they didn’t know my previous address, because they were refusing to ask me for my previous address...

Enough already. But this painful process has furnished me with two pieces of valuable information: e2save’s email address and their real phone number (not the one you have to pay to ring).

e2save email address:
e2save phone number: 01509 611818

I hope anyone having similar trouble with e2save will find that info useful. But my advice would be just to avoid e2save completely.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Good news for Glastonbury fan

We recently wrote about problems with Glastonbury’s ticket registration system; one customer had her registration details mysteriously deleted from the system, then Glastonbury Ticketing said that she must have done it herself and refused to reinstate her registration. I’m delighted to announce a happy ending:  Lara’s registration has now been reinstated and she was able to buy tickets for herself and friends.

Not long after the Restless Consumer blog post was published, someone working for the ticketing system rang Lara and said: “Can you and your friends stop tweeting about us?” He agreed to reinstate the registration (something they had previously said wasn’t possible).

The odd aspect to this story is that the man from the ticketing system is absolutely certain no error was made at their end. He also says that they tried several times to reinstate Lara’s registration, but, every time, it received an instant request to delete it again, seemingly coming from Lara’s account.

If this is true, the repeated and instant nature of the requests sounds like an automated script rather than a human. What’s not clear is whose system was being hacked by this script – Lara’s email account or the ticketing system? We would need more information to know for sure and it’s not something this blog is going to investigate. But we would like to put on record that Glastonbury Ticketing did eventually respond to their customer’s problem and did something to put it right. Whether they would have done that without this blog and a lot of “tweeting about us”, we couldn’t possibly say.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Glastonbury gives ticket buyer the brush-off

It’s the festival of peace, love and mud. You’d expect the people running ticket sales for the Glastonbury Festival to reflect the general hippy ethos – but Restless Consumer reader Lara Hogan has seen a much harder side to the organisers.

Glastonbury tickets are now so in demand – and so vulnerable to being snapped up by touts – that you have to register in advance to be in with a chance of buying a ticket. That’s what Lara duly did, registering well in advance so she could try to buy tickets when they went on sale.

But then an unexpected email arrived.

"Glastonbury" <> wrote:


Your registration has been deleted from our system. Please note you will not be eligible to purchase tickets when they become available. You may register again using the link below.

Regards, the Glastonbury team.

Lara replied within minutes to ask why her registration had been deleted. The helpful reply:

Your registration number [redacted] registered to postcode [redacted] has been deleted from our system. Please note you will no longer be eligible to purchase tickets for this year's festival.
You may register again using the link below.’s been deleted because it’s been deleted? Thanks for clearing that up, guys. Also, she couldn't really "register again using the link below" because registration was closed.

Lara asked for her original registration to be reinstated. After all, she didn’t ask them to delete it, she didn’t want them to delete it and she’s desperate to buy a Glastonbury ticket. Why should she miss out on buying a ticket because of their mistake? But computer says no:

We're sorry but it isn't possible to reinstated deleted accounts.

Registrations can only be deleted if the deletion is verified by the registered email account.

But this can’t possibly be true, because Lara did not verify the deletion of her registration. System errors do happen, but she shouldn’t have to miss out on tickets because of the ticketing system’s mistake. She asked if they can do anything to help. The reply:

There is nothing we can do Lara - registration is closed.

Lara asked to make a formal complaint and the ticketing team claimed that her complaint had been logged, but added:

Ultimately it is your responsibility to check you have a valid registration in time to submit a new one should that be necessary.

Yes, and Lara followed the steps to obtaining a valid registration. Then a system error deleted her registration, completely out of the blue, just two hours before the tickets went on sale and after registration had closed. How exactly was she supposed to “submit a new one”?

She pursued this but the last email she had from Glastonbury Ticketing said:

As we have explained, the verification of a deletion can only come from the registered email account. No one else could have deleted this other than you, Lara.

That’s quite a claim to make. Especially given that Glastonbury Ticketing can’t actually produce any evidence that she confirmed the deletion.

Thinking about it from the human angle, you can see there’s no reason why a longstanding fan who’s registered for tickets in advance would suddenly delete her registration hours before tickets go on sale.

And this is the problem: Glastonbury Ticketing are not behaving like human beings. Lara has reached out to them as a Glastonbury fan who loves the festival, goes every year and has tried her best to buy tickets. She’s asked for help. Their reaction has simply been to keep repeating that their systems couldn’t possibly make any kind of mistake. They’re ignoring everything Lara has told them about the situation and they haven’t showed a scrap of sympathy – sympathy which would be due even if the stupid mistake was hers and not theirs.

Almost all humans and organisations make mistakes. The real test is what you do about them. I would expect the fluffy, hippyish Glastonbury brand to admit any mistakes and try to help a true fan who’s been loyal for many years. Instead they’ve gone for the hard, nasty “computer says no” approach.