A house is on fire in the Whangārei district of Tikipunga. Video / Michael Cunningham
A woman critical of Vodafone for charging her mother-in-law a disconnection fee a day after her Whangārei house burned down has received an unexpected response from the company’s boss.
Wendy Smith complained on Twitter yesterday about the phone and internet company’s service.
“My mother in law’s house burned down yesterday and Vodafone want to charge her a disconnection fee for her broadband. I just can’t,” she tweeted.
Others quickly tweeted their own past problems with Vodafone.
“5 years ago when the person I was living with died suddenly, I called them no less than 8 times to try and get the account put in my name,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Gave up and transferred to Spark. then a few months later they tried to bill her parents for that period.”
Another Twitter user simply wrote: “Two words: Commerce Commission. Report them ASAP.”
However, Vodafone chief executive Jason Paris also noted Smith’s tweet.
“Hi Wendy. That’s ridiculous & I’ll sort this,” Paris wrote.
“Would you mind please dropping me the details to Jason.firstname.lastname@example.org & I’ll get this fixed, plus ensure that we help your Mum out with some free mobile connectivity at such a tough time. Apologies. JP.”
Vodafone NZ’s official twitter account also noticed.
“Hi Wendy, we’re incredibly sorry to hear that this has happened, if you’re still needing assistance please pop us through a direct message and we’ll take a further look into this for you,” the company’s media team wrote.
Shortly after Smith described the result as great.
“That’s awesome. If I can help her get that sorted, it’s one less thing for her to worry about,” Smith tweeted.
Smith told the Herald she had exchanged emails with Paris this morning.
“it’s just been fantastic, they’re getting onto it and following up with her and making sure she is okay and has what she needs,” Smith said.
It was hoped Paris might be able to look at giving Smith’s mother-in-law, who is aged in her 70s, unlimited data while she gets back on her feet.
The fire broke out on Kiripaka and Waiatawa Rds around 12.15pm on Tuesday and took two hours to be contained.
Smoke plumed down the street from the large blaze.
Smith’s mother-in-law was away from the house when it caught on fire and only found out when police called her saying, “Hey, your house is on fire”, Smith said.
Smith’s husband also only found out when he saw photos and posts on Facebook.
The blaze destroyed most of the home, including family keepsakes and photos, she said.
The family had insurance and locals were also banding together to help.
“When they went back to the house, there were groceries sitting outside, someone had dropped them off for them,” Smith said.
Smith’s mother-in-law was now staying with family nearby.
They had been looking to sell the house and downsize to a smaller property, but now it was too early to say what the next step would be, Smith said.
Smith, who now works as an author and runs her own business, previously spent years working in the telco industry.
She said her mother-in-law had been trying to buy new clothes after losing hers in the fire when she got the message from Vodafone about disconnecting her broadband.
Smith said her tweet was more a case of expressing frustration rather than looking for a response from Vodafone, so she was pleasantly surprised to hear from company boss Paris.