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Vodafone TV Play Review: Great idea, poor customer service 2024

Vodafone TV Play: Snatching defeat from the jaws of Victory

We ordered the new Vodafone TV Play service from Vodafone before Christmas. The new product is built around an android box which doubles as a sound bar with Bose included and the whole thing looks great on paper. As a concept, it looks fantastic but Vodafone somehow has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

We got this and to say that we are disappointed is an understatement. From the time we signed the contract to when we got connected, it took a month of calls, messages and eventually a formal complaint to Vodafone and ComReg to get anything done.

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Now that we have it, the user interface is poorly designed and awkward, apps are freezing and using the NOW app to watch sports apps is so complicated that my 80-year-old father wants to send the whole lot back after only 2 days. Vodafone has taken what is a brilliant concept and product and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

On paper, as a salesman, I would love to sell the concept and product. In reality, even though I am currently unemployed I wouldn’t sell this product in its current form even if Vodafone offered me a 6 figure salary, company car and work from home because I couldn’t put up with the amount of dissatisfied customers.

It’s the salespeople that I feel sorry for because they will sell this but lose their commission when the product gets sent back, that’s something that backroom people on a standard salary don’t think about.

Vodafone has now sunk to the same level as Eir for “customer service” and product offering in my opinion. It seems that Vodafone has decided to rush this product to market and let early adopters complain about all the things wrong with it and then in 6 months or a year Vodafone might get around to fixing it. That might have worked before social media (i.e. Windows releases and bugs) but now people like me are so pissed off that they, like me, will be all over SM telling people to stay well clear of Vodafone TV Play.

Terrible user interface

The user interface is terrible, to say the least. It is designed to be used on a touchscreen like a tablet or phone where you can scroll down quickly with your finger. On the TV you have to constantly click again and again to go up or down a channel. On the old interface, you could use the programme key to go up or down a page thus being able to move up and down the UI quickly but no more.

When you go on to the TV guide the channel icons on the left-hand side are so small that you nearly have to stand in front of the TV to see them. The programme boxes overlap each other so when you highlight one of them the other is partly covered and it’s confusing as to when each programme is starting or finishing.

The redline showing what time it is overlaps the programme times so it makes things even more confusing. The whole thing is a mess and I think that whoever developed this just slapped the app into the box and took no notice of the fact that it isn’t suited to a set-top box setup.

We have the NOW sports package because my Dad wants to watch golf. Before he would hit 405 ( or whatever channel it is) and up comes the golf. Now, It’s home button, double click the EPG button, go to sports, click on NOW, launch app, up arrow, across arrow (repeatedly), click on the TV guide, more arrows, click on sports then click on golf.

Every time.

You get the idea.

No favourites.

There is no way to arrange your channels or mark your favourites. On the phone app, you can organize your channels so that your favourites are all together. Most people have maybe 10 favourite channels that they regularly watch so this is a handy way of quickly finding what you want. You can’t do this with the set-top box so you have to click down to your channel.

You could of course put in the channel number but there are 2 problems here.

  1. The number pad is so fast that you need two hands to put the numbers in or else it changes. For instance, my parents who are in their 80s try to key in numbers one-handed but by the time they key in the second number the channel has already changed to the first number e.g They want channel 401, so they key in 4 and when they try to put in the 0 they channel has changed to 4.
  2. Remembering the numbers. What is the point of having a TV guide user interface if you have to remember every channel number just to get to it easily and quickly? It’s Vodafones job to to make the customer’s life as easy and satisfactory as possible but obviously, that concept has long sailed off into the sunset at Vodafone HQ.

Freezing Apps.

I know that there are times when channels will freeze up because of internet lag but Vodafone TV Play has taken this to a whole new level. It’s bad enough on the box that is wide to the router but the box in the other room that is connected by wireless is constantly freezing on multiple channels. We got a subscription to Prime Video and used the app provided by TV Play. Every time we watched a TV episode the whole thing froze and we had to disconnect and reconnect the power and reboot the whole system again. We couldn’t even go back into the main system as that wouldn’t work either.

I reinstalled Prime thinking that it might have been an app problem but it still had the same problem. The app works fine on my phone, tablet and PC so it must be a Vodafone problem.

“Customer Service”.

I use inverted commas because it is laughable that Vodafone even tries to pretend that they have anything near that concept. It’s like Vladimir Putin pretending that Russia didn’t invade Ukraine but was just conducting a “Special military operation”! I thought that Eir was the worst in Ireland but they are now joined by Vodafone who show nothing but contempt for their customers.

As I mentioned before, it took an entire month to get connected to TV Play from the time we ordered the service. We got the hardware within a day but to use it took a month. I wanted hours ringing and messaging customer services, my local store was great and contacted their area manager who isn’t listened to by anybody in “customer care”. It took a formal complaint to Vodafone and ComReg to get anything done.

The constant refrain of “3 to 5 days to process the order ” is an insult to any customer. How does it take (theoretically) 5 days to process a computer-generated order? It’s not like they are re-tasking the Hubble Telescope. Maybe it takes that long for the carrier pigeon to fly from the store to the order processing centre! I don’t know but this alone shows how incompetent Vodafone are.

Conclusion.

This product has huge potential but Vodafone has made a complete mess of it. I feel sorry for the people selling it because they are completely let down by non-existent product development, testing and support. Leave aside the insane battle I had just to get this product, it has taken me only a few days to shoot some very huge holes in it. Why Vodafone released this product without noticing can only lead to the conclusion that they didn’t test it properly and couldn’t care less about customer experience or customer retention.

Stay well clear of  Vodafone TV Play at least until somebody does their job properly and fixes everything that is wrong with this product and service. Considering how long it took just to get the product delivered in the first place that could be from now to eternity.

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