Winning compensation from EE: lessons learnt

In my previous blog post I told the epic tale of how I finally got £300 compensation out of EE (trading as T-Mobile) despite epic stalling on their part. Based on that experience, here’s my advice to anyone else thinking of doing battle with a terrible phone company.

Treat your complaint as a project and open a file for it on your computer.

Phone calls may get you nowhere, and even letters may be ignored. But if you make a note of the calls and keep the letters on file, having that kind of detailed record probably helps your case. Making a note of each call took me literally a minute or two (much less time than I spent on hold). I just wrote down the date and one sentence about the content of the call. If your notes are rendered unnecessary by a speedy resolution of your complaint, all the better.

Calendarise follow-ups.

If you’re desperately waiting for an unlock code to arrive within the promised 48 hours because you’re using an ancient mobile borrowed from someone who really wants it back, you won’t forget you’re waiting. But if the issue with the company isn’t impacting on your life right now, it’s easy to forget, and then they see no consequences for their terrible behaviour. This is where the GTD concept of a “waiting for” list comes in handy. If you don’t do GTD, just put a note in your calendar for, say, six weeks’ time saying “Chase T-Mobile if they haven’t got back to me by now” or words to that effect. On that note...

Don’t believe it till you see it.

It’s tempting to accept statements like “We’ll put that letter in the post today,” because that lets you tick the tedious, angry-making item off the to-do list and forget about it. It’s pretty clear to me that organisations use our need for closure to their advantage – they know you don’t want to keep thinking about this stuff, so they’ll say what you want to hear, then do...something else. Or possibly nothing.

The “higher power” to refer to here is CISAS, the dispute resolution service.

It's not Ofcom, the regulator.

You don’t need a deadlock letter or a reference number or to follow anybody’s “escalation process”.

These are all things I was told I needed, but I didn’t need them at all. To take a case to CISAS you just need to have a complaint that hasn’t been dealt with to your satisfaction within eight weeks. You can apply through the online form and if you’ve kept all those notes handy in a file like I told you to, it won’t take long to write a summary of your grievances.

Keeping notes makes you stronger.

It might sound a bit melodramatic, but several times in my dealings with T-Mobile I felt as if I was being gaslighted. I would speak to someone who said there was no record of my previous call, or say they hadn’t received any letter from me. I was repeatedly given the feeling that I had no right to be angry, no right to ask for compensation. Initially, they even refused to refund me the £20 I’d paid to have my handset unlocked. At one point they even seemed to think that I had agreed to close the case. Having notes from my calls (with dates) and copies of my letters really helped me psychologically as well as strengthening my case with CISAS. As for T-Mobile, if a company can be said to have a psyche then it probably went through the Five Stages of Griffin: denial, delay, hope (that I would go away), grudging acknowledgement and finally a fat cheque.

It isn’t that hard.

This is my final point. I dislike confrontation and I’m not particularly organised. If I can squeeze £300 in compensation out of T-Mobile, anyone can. Most people could probably do it a lot more quickly than I did – especially now that you can benefit from my hindsight.