Archive for May, 2010

Vodafone text delays: “buyer beware”

Monday, May 10th, 2010

“Vodafone fault delays text messages” (Stuff 6 May 2010) - “People’s text messages have been delayed for several hours after a faulty Vodafone computer server hung on to messages, rather than passing them on.”

Is there an apology? Is there a statement assuring us this is unacceptable and won’t happen again? Do Vodafone even seem to care? Based on that article, apparently not.

The story I’m aware of involves a woman waiting at a bus stop for over an hour at 7pm wondering why her partner isn’t responding to her texts or picking her up ( the messages finally arrived, at midnight). When “99% of texts are delivered in under a minute” you tend to expect that 100% are - and certainly not some hours later.

One question is, “When was the fault discovered?” And the answer is unsatisfactory whatever it is.

  1. It was discovered quite soon - in which case why didn’t Vodafone send a broadcast message indicating a network problem so that important communications could be switched to voice?
  2. It was discovered after a number of hours - in which case, how can their systems not have any in-built warnings or alerts for a critical service?
Is it a critical service? Apparently not, despite Vodafone offering a text-only plan like TXT4000 for $12 a month.
David Stone, “the head of industry body the Telecommunications Carriers Forum” said that texting was not as reliable as making a voice call. The article didn’t tell us that David Stone, the CEO of the TCF, formerly represented Vodafone on the Board for 2 years. And he rattled out that old saw, ‘It was a service that came about accidentally, did not use mobile phone companies’ core systems, and it was a case of “buyer beware”.’
Let’s see now, we’ve had Mobile technology since the mid 90’s so for SMS to still be characterised as an “accidental technology” is a joke. As for “buyer beware” - take a scan over the Vodafone website and look for a warning about the potential unreliability of texting - actually, don’t waste your time - you won’t find anything.
Simply, people rely on text message services. Websites send text messages as alerts and reminders - when these arrive late they affect people. The least you could have done was apologised to your customers - and a warning of delays could have avoided some upsets.