Putting Social Media to The Ultimate Test

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After last week’s highly impressive event hosted by Orange, I am even more surprised at how horrible my customer experience has been with Orange’s largest competitor, Cellcom. Let me begin by saying that I thought long and hard before writing this post as I am sure Cellcom is years from reading blogs or tweets about their customers’ opinions. I also generally refrain from writing about topics that are exclusively Israeli. However, I came to the conclusion that this is an important enough topic for my readers to know about, so I decided to go ahead with it.

Where do I start? I guess I will start by saying that I have been a customer of Cellcom for over 10 years and have recommended them to family and friends, which eventually led to them signing up with Cellcom as well. Over the past year or so, there has been a significant drop in the quality of their service. I am talking anywhere from me finding mysterious charges on my bill for traveling abroad (have not left the country in years) to them not answering the phones, and when they finally do, hanging up on me and not calling back.

This last saga was the “straw” for me, and the combination of this nightmare and Orange making me an offer I cannot refuse was what lead me to my decision that it was time to move on. Yea right! Called Cellcom to cancel my subscription, and it turns out that a call I got a month ago from their representative offering me a “better” package of minutes,  has now committed me to Cellcom for another year or so. Do you think the representative  told me this? Of course not! Can I prove that? No! OK, now on to the details of this last drama.

I am now using a prehistoric Nokia 6288, which I purchased from Cellcom 2+ years ago. I am paying 69 shekel a month for this dinosaur (approximately $18) just for the phone. To just put that in perspective, Orange is offering the MUCH-MORE-ADVANCED Nokia 5800 for 40 shekel a month. In addition to that charge, I am paying another 20 shekel a month for 3G service. Here’s the problem. My phone is NEVER configured to use the 3G network, not because I do not want to, anyone who knows me knows I am a Web junkie. The reason I do not use my 3G is because it is as slow as Edge and it eats up the battery to the point that a fully charged battery will die after 15 minutes of 3G use.

Sounds like a faulty battery right? Well, I went and purchased a new battery since I was sure that was the issue. Of course it was not. So I called Cellcom and told them of this issue. After waiting the standard half an hour before reaching the right person, he told me to bring it in to their main lab. So, I did exactly that. I told the manager there that I am VERY not happy with this phone and it has given me nothing but problems from day 1. She said they will fix it and send it back like new.

This was on Friday. I called that Sunday to ask what the status was and to make sure they are fixing the appropriate problems, to which I was told that there is no way to contact the lab and if they send it back, it will be like new. Sure enough, I got the phone back, paid 50 shekel for the repair and not only is it not fixed, the phone has some other major issues that were a thousand percent not there before.

So, at this point, I am starting to get fed up, so I call Cellcom again and explain the issue. The representative consulted with a manager after the normal hour and a half wasted on the phone with them and offered me to fix the phone again. They were even “nice” enough to pay for a messenger to come pick up my phone and give me a replacement for free (as if it makes sense that I should pay again after getting back an even more broken phone). I thanked them and asked that the replacement phone he brings me be the same model so I can at least use my memory card, as well as other functions I use regularly. She promised me he’d bring the same phone.

Of course, when the guy came to take my phone, he took out the most basic of phones, I am talking no MP3 player, no Web access, nothing. I told him I am sorry but I had only one request and it seems they could not even do that right. I did not take the phone and sent the messenger back. I then called Cellcom again and asked for a manager. I was told he would call me back by the next day at 7 PM. I eventually got that call 4 days later and when I asked the manager why it took so long, he responded, “OK, no need to overreact, I am on the phone now, aren’t I?” In this manager’s opinion, the fact that he called me 3 days after the time I was told he would call was acceptable.

At this point my blood was pretty much boiling as it is right now writing this post. Basically, the bottom line is they could not offer me anything other than to send another messenger to pick up the phone and do the same story all over again. The status now is that I am waiting for the guy to pick up my phone tonight, and I was guaranteed he would bring the same model as the replacement. Let’s wait and see.

One more thing that makes me nuts is how every step along the way they keep offering me an “upgrade”. Now, I might be nuts but when I think of an upgrade, I think of returning one product and getting another one that is better. With Cellcom, their definition of upgrading is buying a new phone. You start paying for the new phone and continue to pay for the old one. Am I crazy or is this total trickery? What makes that an upgrade?

Now, it is important to emphasize that every single manager and representative I spoke to along the way was aware of the fact that I have a blog with a relatively large audience. I told them I blog about mobile matters and that it can be great PR for them if they help me solve this problem and alternatively give them a horrible name if they do not. Of course, going down this path brought no results besides of course being asked a few times by managers “Are you threatening Cellcom?” Gotta love the attitude!

What do I want? I am not asking for them to give me a phone for free. I am asking for them to replace this phone with one that works. If it is the same model, so be it, although from what I have read, it is a problematic phone. Give me a phone that works, one that I am not paying close to 100 shekel a month for between the phone and the 3G service that does not even work. If they cannot do that, refund me for all the months I could not use the 3G service. Most importantly, I do not care WHAT they offer me, I just want to see that they actually care. What I want to see is that they understand the value of a happy customer and how that is worth so much more than one repair or even phone they might just have to “swallow” to make a customer happy.

I, as a firm believer in the power of social media decided to write this post with the hope that maybe it will be spread around enough that SOMEONE who has some say in Cellcom will be listening. Other companies like Alfa Romeo, Ford, Samsung, and even Orange have started paying attention to the Web community, it is about time Cellcom opened their eyes and did the same.

OK, there’s the story, now it is up to you to ensure that somehow Cellcom reads this post. So spread it as much as possible until you see the following message in my Twitter stream: “It worked, they called, I am tweeting this from my brand new <insert phone here>”.


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Hillel Fuld is a global speaker, entrepreneur, journalist, vlogger, and leading startup advisor. He brings over a decade of marketing experience with leading Israeli and Silicon Valley startups, and currently collaborates with many global brands in an official marketing capacity including Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Huawei, and others.      Hillel covers the dynamic local tech scene for many leading publications including Entrepreneur magazine, Inc, TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat, and others. Additionally, Hillel mentors startups across Israel in different accelerators including The Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator, Techstars, The Junction, and more.    Hillel has been named Israel’s top marketer, 7th top tech blogger worldwide, has been featured on CNBC, Inc, and was dubbed by Forbes as “The Man Transforming Startup Nation into Scale-up Nation”.       Hillel has hundreds of thousands of followers across the social web and can be found on Twitter at @Hilzfuld. You can learn more about him on his website: www.hilzfuld.com


11 thoughts on “Putting Social Media to The Ultimate Test

  1. When I signed up for cellcom a few years ago, there was a special deal that if you paid over 200NIS a month, you would get a “free” phone if you paid only 20 NIS a month on your phone (i.e they would take 20 NIS from your bill a month).

    I asked them to show me only the phones that I would get for “free”. After I picked a phone, I asked them a few times just to make sure I understood, that I would be paying
    nothing for this phone because my plan was over 200 NIS a month and they assured me this was the case. Once I got my 1st bill I discovered I was paying a total of 40 NIS a month for the phone of which 20 NIS was being taken off, so I was still paying for this phone every month. They wouldn’t let me return it and I had no proof that I was blatently lied to by the cellcom representatives.

    Additionally, because it took them months to process the information my bank sent them when I switched banks, they disconnected my phone for about a month. Not only that, but they charged me for the month I had no phone and only after speaking to about five managers and yelling my head off, did they cut the fee.

  2. It’s just simply unbelievable how some companies don’t understand why good service is in their interests. So many of us are always getting screwed by the same companies, we really need to pool our energies and creativity. While they won’t be swayed by an individual, if just ten people get together and rally on some street corner with signs that say “_____ sucks” and handing out flyers, that would have to get their attention, right? How else can we effect change?


  3. Feels good to rant eh? I’m all for a good rant. The cellphone companies in Israel are just terrible when it comes to service if you are not a business client.

  4. I’ve used Orange for some time, and I have to say that I’ve been quite happy with the service that they’ve provided. Their store in Givat Shaul runs like clock work. I also think that I get better klitah than my Cellcom friends.

    It’s ridiculous what Cellcom is putting you through. I hope that they do right by you soon, but if they don’t, you may just want to cut your losses and move to Orange anyway. It might not be worth the aggravation.

  5. “OK, no need to overreact, I am on the phone now, aren’t I?”

    LOL, I miss Israel, with all it’s kooky inhabitants!!

    I hope they hear you and that there’s a quick resolution 🙂

  6. w/ orange, we bought new phones recently and the representative talked us into a new pricing plan (naturally she told us it would save us money and that it was tailored to our individual usage patterns — actually orange is really good about this, they can tell you how much your last month’s bill would have been on different hypothetical billing plans, if you know to ask them).. after a month we saw our bill had literally doubled.

    we had to scream at a few managers (thank God my wife knows how to be an atzbani pushy israeli) and at first they couldn’t do anything about it, because our old usage plan was no longer being offered, finally one manager mentioned some other great plan (that for some reason no one else bothered to suggest) and now we actually are paying less than we used to pay.

  7. Well, as I get it, all mobile companies are the same. Their sales departments are extremely kind and caring. You will be very happy with each and every one, until the day, god forbid, you would actually need a service.
    Personally I had problems with Cellcom in the past where they added 3g services to my bill when I had a phone that didn’t support it at all. Got it all back at the end.
    One more thing I discovered is that sometimes it’s best to get an unlocked phone and migrate with your sim. To limit your dependence on these companies and their “upgrade” offers, which only tie you down for longer.
    Oh, and one more thing: pay attention to the surprising increase in their “regular” charges. On their contract they write that it is their right to increase the prices as they see fit. I am not a lawyer but it does strike me as an imbalanced contract – to tie down your customer for 3 years to just any price you might come up with…

  8. While we’re telling Cellcom horror stories, I’ll add my own – after requesting they upgrade me from a WAP internet plan to a real (3g) internet plan, they continued to charge me for the WAP. When I called them on it, they told me I needed to specify not only that I wanted a a real internet plan, but also that I wanted to cancel my existing WAP plan..

    When I asked them why anyone would possibly want WAP with a real internet plan, they told me something to extent that it’s not their job to think. Obviously they wouldn’t take responsibility for their idiot mistake, and I learnt the important lesson that when dealing with monkeys, you need to treat them like monkeys.

  9. People, you are not gonna believe this but a senior rep at Cellcom read this blog and the comments, and called me to offer me a free phone. I am still in shock, but I have to give them props for caring. I will be writing a follow up post. Thanks for the support guyz.

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