My wife and I went to the Vincent Park Vodashop on the 1st of May to change her details into her married name and upgrade her contract from a TopUp to a Weekender. The gentlemen that assisted us was helpful, efficient and we left knowing that her name would be changed, that the contract would be upgraded, and include an SMS bundle, and that her new phone would arrive by Monday at the latest.
The following Wednesday we still hadn’t received the phone call to say that the phone was ready; instead, my wife had received a statement stating that an amount of R 144.50 would be deducted from her account come the end of the month.
Alarm bell number one.
Eventually my wife received the phone call that her phone was ready for collection that Thursday, and we duly went in on Saturday, concerned about the statement, but nevertheless excited at the prospect that we were going to get a spanky Nokia 5310 Music Xpress with mini-speaker and Bluetooth earphones. When we arrived, there was a lady already shouting at the teller.
Alarm bell number two.
My wife remarked that the lady should shout less and control her child instead, this, it would seem, would be the wrong thing to say, as we were about to find out, first hand, why the woman before us was having such a miserable time. Our turn in the queue came and we stepped forward. Disappointment, anger, and sheer stunned disbelief were about to welcome us with a large wiffle bat.
First, we asked for the phone, the teller didn’t want to know what my wife’s name was, she just wanted the telephone number. She went off, couldn’t find what she was looking for, came back, took the number and name and went back again. Eventually, she returned with the phone in hand. Eagerly we looked at the phone (okay, so maybe I was the one drooling, what can I say, I’m a geek), and I asked the question: where are the Bluetooth earphones and the speaker?
The answer we got back stunned me: Nokia no longer supplies the earphones with the phone, so you don’t get them.
Despite the fact that the contract we are getting explicitly states that the phone comes with Bluetooth earphones and a mini-speaker, because Nokia is no longer supplying the phone with the Bluetooth earphones, the customer doesn’t get them. Somewhat stunned, I asked how much the Bluetooth earphones were. They’re R899.
So my wife is losing out on R900 worth of equipment, despite the fact that she’s still paying for it, even though she isn’t getting the earphones? We received a Shox mini-speaker, which I am almost sure is the incorrect one, because I believe that the contract states that it is a Tevo brand speaker, but that I will need to lookup as I may be mistaken.
We then point out the issue with the statement. The price is right for the weekender. So we point out that we requested an SMS bundle. The teller confirms that it was never added. We then query the name change, which hasn’t gone through. The teller states that they cannot change names, that they just fax it through to their regional office. My wife also points out that the contract is still invoiced out to the incorrect person despite her requesting ti to be changed some three years ago!
At this point we have surpassed the annoyed stage, moved passed disbelief and are now angry. Our voices are raised. I can safely state that the Vincent Park Vodashop should be grateful that my wife had a splitting headache (I took her from Vincent Park to the doctor for an injection) otherwise they would have gotten a far greater tongue lashing than I gave them.
What truly stunned me was the complete disinterest from the teller and the other Vodashop employees, including, who I think may have been the manageress, but she never introduced herself so I am unsure. Even when we threatened to take the contract to MTN, they simply just shrugged. They didn’t care.
So tonight I get all the details together, lodge a complaint with their head office at the completely shocking service that we received. The worst part for my wife is that she at first tried to get her phone in early April, but there were no phones that she liked available. It was only after she had settled on the Nokia E65 and was told that she would have to wait a week for stock, and then that I did my upgrade at MTN at Retail Park (who’s service was utterly SUPERB!), in thirty minutes (from documentation, new phone, extra memory card, cell phone holster to walking out the door with a smile on my face) that she saw the 5310 and decided that she wanted it.
We went to the Vodashop in Retail Park, were told that they did not have the phone, and that the Nokia 5310 was a “crappy phone with endless problems”. After researching it and getting second opinions we stuck with it. My only regret is that my wife is now stuck with the Vodacom contract for another two years. The phone wasn’t even in the colour that she wanted – it’s blue, she wanted the red, but Vodacom can only get it in blue (because it’s their corporate colours?).
It was, therefore, with great interest that I read the following article on ITWeb: The Big Cellular Rip Off. I can only hope that when I contact Vodacom customer service tomorrow that they are better able to resolve this, and make up for the shyte service we have received so far.
I can only hope that the cellular providers get to the point where they realise that the customer is what makes them money. Eventually people will grow tired of being treated like crap and they will lose them. I can only hope that the theory presented in the ITWeb article above is tested in court and proves that the cellular providers are not legally entitled to charge subscription charges as a penalty. If that becomes the case, I think a lot more people will flex their customer muscle and move to another provider.
Speaking of which, Virgin Mobile is looking progressively more promising, much like their credit card offering. Free SMS’s? Forever? That makes one question how the other service providers quantify the R 0.75 that they charge for an SMS.