I’ve run into two problems with Vodafone. The first is that they promised a minimum download speed of 25Mbps and, just as I expected, the actual speed is around 16Mbps. Without amending the laws of physics, it can’t really be otherwise as we’re nearly a kilometre from the cabinet. When I mentioned that the speed was far below the guaranteed level, the Vodafone agent flipped us onto a 25% discount tariff without missing a beat.
The second problem took a bit more sorting out. It doesn’t matter what speed you’re getting if the connection is unreliable, and the service had the wrong sort of reliability. You could rely on it to drop out every 60-90 minutes. That’s really not acceptable and it did cause some problems when dropouts occurred in the middle of transactions. I tried one call to Vodafone support and was guided through some useless and ineffectual changes (altering the WiFi channels, turning off UPnP, going for split SSID and so forth).
The penny dropped when I looked at the Vodafone customer support forums. The problem was clearly with the supplied Vodafone router. It seems that when Vodafone decided to go for the home broadband market they bought a container-ship’s worth of Vodafone-branded Huawei routers which simply weren’t up to the job. Maybe if your household just has a phone and a laptop it would be OK, but we have a PC, two laptops, two tablets, two phones and various other internet connected devices.
The solution? Simple. Nip over to PC World and buy a decent (TP Link, Netgear, Linksys etc) modem router and never look back. We’ve gone from dropping out for two or three minutes every hour or so to having a rock solid connection that’s not dropped out so far in a whole week. It’s not ideal having to source your own router, but given that we’re saving around £70 per month we’ll make the additional cost back very quickly. Looking back through the forums, it seems that Vodafone initially took a hard line, insisting that subscribers had to use their cr*p router. For some reason big companies often adopt policies that make them look brain dead, but at some point in 2018 they woke up. By the time we subscribed, they were handing out the necessary details required to use a third-party router as a matter of course, without even the need for a request.
Is there still a fly in the ointment? You bet there is. BT can’t quite understand that customers leave, and so they’re still billing us. The agent I spoke to had to go and find a manager who was at least aware of the concept. He was too busy to talk to me, but I was given his name and assured that at some point in the next week he would organise a refund and ensure that the billing stopped from now on. Stand by for the next episode.
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