It was something of a blast from the past – and a bit of a surprising one, too.
I recently got myself a Vodafone phone. Nothing fancy you understand, just a little something to keep me in touch with family and friends (and no one at work knows the number, ssshhhh). Anyhow, the phone has been fine. Easy set-up, works okay. Until I got the bill – or should I say receipt for the bill.
Or at least I think it was for the Vodafone bill.
Like a good chap, I sent off the cheque as required and when my next bank statement turned up a couple of weeks later, duly checked to see it had gone through successfully. Hmmm… no sign of a payment to Vodafone.
WOF, water rates, electricity, ISP, Foodtown, bakery, takeaways… but no Vodafone. Thankfully the phone was still happily working. There must be some mistake.
I checked again.
Ah. There it was. Or at least I thought it was. It was the right amount. And the payee? BellSouth! There it was, large as life. The big B from the US of A. Now, the name rang a bell (no pun intended). Many of you will remember it did exist here once. Before iPods, MySpace, YouTube, 2.5G, 3G, flash drives, MP3s, Blu-Ray, plasma screens – in fact, before pretty much anything that’s anything in the tech world today. We’re talking… what… an awfully long, long, long, long, long time ago… about… well, a decade?
Actually, it will be 10 years come November that BellSouth New Zealand sold up its assets (for a tidy $750 million), handed over its 138,000 customers and left these shores. The buyer? None other than the Vodafone Group.
Ah, a vital clue to the mystery.
For sure, it wasn’t quite the surprise, say, a name like BP or Microsoft or Pak’n’Save appearing on my bank statement for a cellphone payment. Nevertheless, it did beg the question: what the heck was the name BellSouth doing representing a payment I’d made to Vodafone.
I checked with my bank. They agreed it was odd but nothing to do with them. The information came from Vodafone’s bank, the BNZ.
I called Vodafone and checked to see whether they’d been bought out by BellSouth and no one had told me about it (or the rest of the country, for that matter).
So, what about BellSouth’s name on my statement? It seems it was news to them.
What has happened, apparently, is that the details BNZ has on file are, well, not quite correct. Instead of listing my payment as being made to Vodafone, the company told my bank BellSouth. It beats me how BellSouth ever got its name in there in the first place. I’m guessing Vodafone didn’t take over the BellSouth account. Wouldn’t they set up a new one from scratch?
I’m also guessing BNZ has got a call asking what’s going on. I’ve been a customer for just a couple of months. Surely I’m not the only one? Which means, have people really been seeing BellSouth on their bank statements for the past 10 years?
I await my next one with great anticipation.