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The end of a long story about a phone

… continued from last post

YT and the Nicelandic Consumers Union [Neytendasamtökin] go back a long way. Or – well – a few years. We first became acquainted about seven years ago when I owned a dud of a computer that had broken down about six times in two years. I happened to relate the story to EPI’s niece, who was working there at the time as a lawyer. She promptly put me in touch with a co-worker who was, and is, a serious force to be reckoned with. About a month later my computer dud was back with its [not-too-happy] seller, whereas in its place I had a new high-end laptop that turned out to be an absolute workhorse and ran non-stop for about five years without so much as a hiccup. I’ve been a Consumers Union member ever since and am a big fan because they kick ass up there.

Anyway, I called them up and they put me through to the same woman as before, who totally commiserated with my sad story about the phone and its hideous logo. When I got to the part about being stonewalled by the Vodafone manageress, she was indignant. “No. No. Of course she can refund you the money. They sold you a different phone from the display model. You should get your money back.” She asked me to send her an email relating the main points and she’d speak to them. Less than two hours later, she called me back. “Take the phone back to the store in Kringlan and they’ll give you a full refund.”


[Incidentally: this sort of thing NEVER happens in Iceland. The Icelanders can be assertive as hell, but they’re LOUSY consumers – they’re forever being handed wooden nickels and just taking them. Refunds for anything are practically unheard of here. One notable exception is the fabulous ZARA, which when it opened its first store here about six years ago started offering full refunds on clothes that were returned in the same condition as when bought, within a specific time frame. Hats off! – and now a few more stores have followed suit. But I digress.]

So later that day, I found myself in Kringlan, heading for old Vodafone. I had on my tough front, all prepared to be cross-examined or to have to go through the same shit as with the people on the phone, but lo! – nothing of that sort happened, the apathetic kid perched on his stool behind the counter just took the phone and mumbled something about not knowing how to do refunds [you don’t say? ] and then asked someone else before just … opening the till and giving me the refund, in cash. Get that? – IN CASH. I was floored. Because if there’s one thing more outrageously surprising than getting a refund in an Icelandic store, it’s getting that refund in cold hard cash.

Truly, I could hardly believe my good fortune. So what I did was leave the store, walk exactly ten steps across the corridor, and straight into the store of the competition, which I happened to know had that very same phone but WITHOUT the branding on it. Heh heh. I knew this because I’d been there the previous day, but had due to some weird sense of obligation ended up buying from my phone provider, with the aforementioned disastrous results.

So the girl who had been serving me the previous day came up to me and we got chatting and I told her my little story and that I wanted the same phone, and did they have it in white. Alas, they did not. However, she suddenly got this mischievous little look on her face. “I have JUST the phone for you,” she said, and disappeared, only to return very conspiratorially with a little box that she opened. “There are only fourteen of these in the entire country,” she said, almost whispering. “They only ordered six of this colour; the buyers – who are all guys – thought it was a joke, that nobody would buy them.” She raised an eyebrow. “They sold out within an hour – to people in-house. I got one myself.” She pulled it out and proceeded to demonstrate, taking YT through the navigation menu and such. “They tried to order more, but there were only nine left. We don’t even have them on display. We keep them under the counter.”

Whell! With that kind of hard-sell, how could I possibly refuse?

[semi-nauseating gush ahead]

So I now have a gorgeous new phone, that I am absolutely smitten with. Seriously – this is a major departure for our YT. I’m more the classic subdued type, easy on the flash. Not only does my new phone have serious BLING, it’s also not a Nokia [gasp!] and was considerably more expensive than the phone I planned to buy. The screen is crystal clear, the navigation is genius [I much prefer it to any Nokia phone I have ever owned], the buttons are easy to push [i.e. aren’t all jammed up against each other] and it knows intuitively what I want to do, before I do it. [“Do you want to copy your contacts from the SIM card?” – why, yes I do, little phone!] If you want, you can check it out here [it’s the pink one – you can even try it out in their super-duper online virtual phone world].

[/semi-nauseating gush]

Okay then! So you see, all’s well that ends well. And now I must sign off because I’m heading off tomorrow to search for polar bears. Cheerio!

I kid you not. It’s what the weatherman said: “The remnants of a tropical storm will pass over the Land today.” Mostly what this meant was a lot of rain, and fairly warm temps – for us, at least. It’s no great shakes at the moment, 12°C [54F] and still raining, sunrise was at 4 am, and sunset at 11.05.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jon July 22, 2008, 2:11 am

    That turned out well! I was not expecting such a good result so quickly, but I am glad everything is resolved.

  • JoeInVegas July 22, 2008, 4:41 am

    You didn’t go for an Iphone? The new one just came out a week ago here, and Apple sold over a million in three days, to people who waited four hours (or more) in line.
    But, glad that you are happy with yours. But not a Nokia? oh my.

  • Chris Magnusson July 22, 2008, 6:19 am

    I have to go with JoeInVegas’ first question. I don’t have one (yet) but I do have an iPod Touch and the user interface is absolutely amazing! I hope to acquire an iPhone in the not-too-distant future due simply to the simplicity of the UI.

  • hildigunnur July 22, 2008, 7:05 am

    Joe, Chris, this question came up after the last entry – and was answered there too. They still don’t sell the iPhone in Iceland – as a matter of fact, when Steve Jobs was introducing the phone to more countries, Iceland had been left out of the map. 🙁

  • wally July 22, 2008, 7:55 am

    Congrats. I am a foreigner who lives here and am constantly amazed my the shit my wife puts up with. She is learning though. This year alone we have receieved full cash refunds from IKEA, Hornid, Reykjavik Parking (not cash), Glitnir Bank (not cash), and a host of others I cant remember.
    I am naturally very militant about this and now my wife is learning to be that way too.
    Ill let her read this story…shell get a kick knowing she isnt a freak in this country for actually complaining.

  • Keera July 22, 2008, 11:10 am

    Ooh, that is a pretty phone! Funny what you say about Nicelanders and accepting wooden nickels. My local paper just ran an article describing what uncomplaining consumers Norwegians are, but it is in part because our companies make it so darned hard to complain. No-one has a complaints department. Well, my employer got one last year and it is a huge success, meaning we’ve rescued many accounts with it. It would be nice if all companies had such a department.

  • alda July 22, 2008, 12:08 pm

    Jon – thanks. Me too!

    Joe, Chris – what Hildigunnur said.

    Hildigunnur – I am shocked by your last remark. Shocked! (but alas, not surprised.)

    Wally – Complainers unite! We’ll have them converted in no time here. 😉

    Keera – yes, isn’t it? 🙂 – and it sure does seem like our two nations are alike in so many ways, including this (perhaps not unsurprising, since we’re of the same stock). Big props to your company, though.

  • VioletSky July 22, 2008, 5:22 pm

    ooh, I love that phone. I guess I should be more grateful for our return anything for a full refund policy. Years ago you’d be rehearsing your reason for returning an item for the full report that would be written up; now it is automatic after first being asked: is it defective?

  • Colin July 22, 2008, 9:34 pm

    The funny thing is, many customers are more loyal to a company that fixes problems than ones that either don’t fail or don’t care if they fail. Having such poor customer service means you just lose customers instead of – as Keera points out – actually getting a chance to retain them. It must be nice for Vodaphone to be so successful that they can just ignore customers ; )

  • pierre l July 22, 2008, 11:34 pm

    Well done Alda!

  • tk July 23, 2008, 5:51 pm

    Good job getting your money back. And that’s a sweet little phone you ended up with. (Being one of the last six cell-phoneless people on the planet, I’m holding out for an iPhone.)

    Oh, and the tropical storm was my fault. The last report from the National Hurricane Center had it aimed straight at Niceland; then they stopped tracking it. I should have warned you.

  • digdug727 July 23, 2008, 10:34 pm

    so what do nicelanders do when they want to send text messages? is there an icelandic qwerty keyboard for cel phones? when i was last there, the computer i used to check my email had icelandic characters and a slightly different layout. i was a little befuddled. wondered if i would have the same experience texting with a rented cel, next time i am there.

  • Sonja July 24, 2008, 5:26 pm

    Although I don’t miss the costumer service in Iceland, I do miss the phone service. Here (US) it’s horrible. You normally have to succumb to long term contracts and you have to pay for both calls you make AND receive, ditto for text messages. The contract has you pay for so many minutes per month (maybe 600 or 700) instead of you just paying what you use. So if you don’t use half of the minutes you are paying twice what you should be paying.

    Currently I’m using pay-as-you-go and although the phone is decent (Nokia) and the rate is good (10 cents/min) the minimum upload of 300 minutes is only good for 2 months (I think it was at least 6 months in Iceland). I only really need it when I’m traveling, since I have a house phone with unlimited local and long distance and free local calls at work. But when I am traveling I do need it.

  • Dankoozy July 27, 2008, 12:51 pm

    *is happy for you* tis always good to have a phone that nobody else has.

    lots of people have iphones like there are probably quite a few imported ones in iceland that have all the SIM locks and other restrictions painstakingly removed but when they walk down the street people will just assume they are iPod touches because they look so alike

  • Vikingisson July 27, 2008, 2:48 pm

    Hello again!
    Nice to see the ending turn out so well. I was going to comment in part one that I was proud of you for going with a more basic phone over the more stylish and pimped out device that the sheeple clamor for. After all we’re sensible, we want our devices to do their primary tasks very well and don’t care as much about what the Jones’s think (what is the Nicelandic version of the Jones’s?). But there you go buying up the bling! hehe, the Nicelandic consumer gene kicked in a bit there didn’t it? 🙂

    Maybe I’m just getting more mellow in old age but have almost given up the after sales complaints and tribulations. I make my wishes very plain before hand and if I get hosed I try once to get satisfaction and then vote with my dollars and never again buy from them. So as it is I don’t own a cell phone, cable service, sat dish, music service, brick and mortar bank account, and a few other things that no longer have desirable choices. I’ve become hyper dependent on the internet but can live happily for brief periods without it, just like in grandma’s day.

    (one brand I give first looks to is Nokia. My non cell phone Internet Tablet works a treat and I appreciate the company’s design choices, a product meant for my smallish market base) but Sony? Happy to hear that is works but don’t you feel just a bit dirty? 🙂

  • alda July 29, 2008, 11:17 pm

    Thanks all, for your comments. I’m particularly interested in reading about cell phone rates elsewhere -I had no idea it was like that in North America. I’m quite stunned, really.

    Doug – the cellphone keyboards here have the standard letters, but also the Icelandic ones, so you shouldn’t have a problem. 🙂

    Víkingsson – actually I didn’t want a basic phone. I’ve had a basic phone, but I needed one with which I could pick up my email, etc. And nobody said it had to be ugly. 🙂