News Article

A Very Incompetent Tale

Posted by Ken Barnes

One man's struggle against the system.

The Xbox One has launched and – barring the odd faulty unit, which is to be expected when you’re building over two million of the things – it’s all gone relatively well. Stock is still short of course, but that’s to be expected given the high demand and the time of year. The fact is though, that most people who wanted an Xbox One and who preordered one, have the console sitting comfortably under their TV as we speak. Even if you were enough of an idiot to knowingly ("it said it was a photo, but it was in the Xbox category so I thought it would be alright!") pay £450 for a photo of an Xbox One rather than an Xbox One itself, it seems you can join in with the fun.

But “most” doesn’t mean “all” - not by any means. One person having trouble with their “Day One” preorder – bearing in mind the machine has been available for three weeks now – is UK gamer Dan Muir, who came to us with a tale of woe that we just couldn't believe.

On November 8th, Dan’s wife preordered an Xbox One for him and his son from UK retailer Very.co.uk, as a surprise combined birthday gift for her son, and Christmas gift for Dan. Lucky guys, huh? Unfortunately not, since what follows is something of tale of errors, buck-passing, and appalling customer service that appears to be becoming the norm with a lot of UK-based internet retailers.

Order, order!
Having placed the order, their account initially indicated that the console was due to be delivered at some point between launch day and the 23rd of December – which is about as unhelpful as it gets. Towards the end of November, Dan’s wife logged in to see if any progress had been made, or if a delivery day had been fixed. To her surprise, the Xbox One had been delivered on November 29th.

The only problem with that of course, is that it hadn’t.

On the 29th, the console was in the possession of Yodel, a UK delivery company that many internet shoppers have had dealings with thanks to them previously causing no end of problems for Amazon.co.uk customers for at least two festive seasons in a row. Just for a bit of background, take a little look at this.

The machine left Yodel’s Middleton depot on the back of a van – although it may just as easily have been a beat up old Ford Capri jammed to the rafters with now-squashed parcels, if our experience is anything to go by - and supposedly headed towards Dan’s house in Bolton. The package was addressed to his wife, who uses the surname of Walker Muir. Thirty minutes later, the package was indeed signed for by someone, somewhere in the name of “Walker.” Whether it was delivered to the wrong property and someone signed for it and thanked heavens for their good fortune, or whether the delivery driver thought he would be the one to take advantage, we don’t know. What we do know is that the driver’s handheld scanner – the little terminal that they ask you to sign your name on with a stylus in order to confirm that you’ve received the item – had a strange and coincidental malfunction at exactly that point, meaning the driver was only able to obtain a signature on a paper docket. A paper docket that apparently doesn’t get uploaded to Yodel’s tracking system.

In short, there’s no trail. Somebody has a new Xbox One, but it isn’t Dan.

Communications breakdown
So, he contacted Very.co.uk’s customer services team. We’ve seen the chain of emails and tweets, and heard about the multiple calls to Very’s customer service number, and it reads as if the Keystone Cops have taken over the company’s handling of the situation. Over the phone after a great deal of struggle, they reiterate that the package has been delivered and signed for – in a roundabout way, suggesting that the Muirs were up to no good. Then they suggest that Dan contacts Yodel direct, which isn’t really his responsibility. Yodel wouldn’t help, as Very hadn’t provided Dan with a tracking number. Another premium-rate call to Very saw the company beating the same drum. There was nothing they could do, and the Muirs would need to speak to Yodel. A switch to email and the social networks yielded slightly better results, but not without some ridiculous amounts of work. Once Very had again confirmed that the package had been “delivered” and there was nothing they could do to help, the company finally relented and promised to contact Yodel.

This of course, was after Very’s social media team had been in response, repeatedly copying and pasting the form responses to tell Dan to email or call them and that they couldn’t call him because they – believe this one if you can – don’t have any outgoing phone lines in their department. So why couldn’t he call them on the number they provided? Well, the account holder – Dan’s wife – is legally deaf, so has difficulty using the phone – something that Very have been made aware of. Very won’t usually speak to Dan on the phone when he calls, because of the Data Protection Act. Catch 22.

Three days later, with no explanation and after being chased multiple times, Very credited the Muirs’ account, seemingly admitting that the couple hadn’t taken delivery of the Xbox One, but not going so far as to say that. A simple two line message reads:-

“Please accept our apologies we have now credited your account. This will show on your next statement. If you wish to reorder please just order in the normal manor.

The only problem with that of course, is that Dan can’t reorder. Nobody has any stock. Young Alfie Muir’s birthday has come and gone without his main present turning up, and until retail gets hold of some stock, he’ll be going without. Not to mention the fact that Dan won’t be picking up his Day One achievement…

But why are we printing this?

In short, we want Very to respond. A family who could all have been Xbox One players have been the victim of wrongdoing, and we’re going in to bat for them. We reached out to Very to see what they had to say for themselves, but they declined to comment on the matter, stating that they can’t talk about specific cases. Whether Very or the company they employ to deliver their products - Yodel - are at fault for the initial issue isn’t the point. The fact that the Muirs haven’t been charged for the console is beside the point, too. It’s simply a matter of awful customer service, a complete lack of cohesion between a company’s various teams, and the sheer bare-faced rudeness that suggested that the customer who had a genuine problem was trying to pull the wool over the company’s eyes that gets our dander up.

With every outlet on the planet reporting on a "fortunate" student who somehow came up smelling of roses as a reward for ignoring all the warning signs and buying a photo of an Xbox One on eBay, we thought it would be good to give some coverage to some good folks who just want to jump in to the next generation.

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