Hello, Vodacom?

August 31, 2015 § 23 Comments

Oh, Vodacom. I had such high hopes for you. I thought that you cared about your image, your reputation, the perception out there in the marketplace.

But your behaviour seems to show the opposite, and now I’m not sure what to think.

You see, Vodacom, you may or may not have noticed that there are a lot of customers out there who are unhappy with the way their data usage has suddenly, overnight, without explanation or warning or a change in their phone or other device habits, escalated to completely unreasonable levels.

I too, had some data disappear mysteriously from my iPad – the one with the cell signal switched off. Like, completely off, which is when I decided to conduct a little experiment. But let me not repeat myself. I screenshotted the tweets I sent to you over a week ago. Here’s the first one (and do read from the bottom up, or they will make no sense).

Vodacom1

I think I’m quite good at storytelling, don’t you? But wait! There’s more! Here’s the next screenshot – again, read from the bottom. (I’m only explaining because I don’t want you to miss anything.)

Vodacom2

This caused something of a flurry. I got a call from your social media person, a lovely woman who assured me you would be ‘escalating’ my query. And that it was something of a mystery that my data had dropped slightly, especially since I turned my cell data off as I went to bed on 31 July and cleared and rebooted everything. Look, here’s an updated screenshot – explain that? I have not turned the cell signal back on since that night.

Vodacom4

And I’m waiting with bated breath to see if my data really does carry over for one month as the person who sold me the SIM card in your Vodashop told me it would. Tomorrow’s going to be so exciting!

But I digress. Back to your lovely social media person. She admitted it was a mystery. She promised me she would ‘escalate’ my query and make it a priority. She sent me a reference number. But what perturbed me was how she sometimes said, “Look, I’m going to be honest with you…” Are your staff members normally not honest with customers? Is that how you train them? To spin the bad news? To put the blame back on the customer?

Oh no, wait! That’s you! Because a few days later you helpfully put out this information. There was a more direct article posted by you, but I can’t find it now. And I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I call bullshit. Because it doesn’t really explain my (admittedly small) data loss. It doesn’t explain how a friend managed to use 1GB of data while his phone was off and in a safe, and he was on an operating table having surgery. It doesn’t explain my boss’s exorbitant data bill on a device that was lying at home for a weekend. So you’ll pardon me if I don’t buy the ‘no buffering and LTE’ explanation.

But what’s possibly more concerning is the disregard you show your customers. And it’s not just me who thinks so. Here’s another screen shot of just some of the responses I got to my original tweet tirade. There are lots more, but it would be quite boring to post them all here. I’m sure you get the idea.

Vodacom3

Because you know that ‘priority’, ‘escalated’ query I got a reference number for eight days ago? Not a peep. Haven’t heard a word. Imagine the poor bastards who didn’t get escalated, prioritised queries. How long has it been? Are their dessicated skeletons sitting by the phone still waiting for you to deliver basic customer service? Or have they called you and simply been fobbed off by a carefully crafted, patronising call centre script?

My dear friend and PR maven Keri-Ann Stanton has suggested we mobilise (see what I did there?) South African citizens to have a data-free day. I’m seriously considering it. Have you worked out how much money you’d lose if a big number of us turned our data off for a day? Oh wait! It wouldn’t make a difference, because we lose data when our phones are off anyway! Silly me.

But anyhoo, I’m a solutions girl, so I thought I’d help you with your communication. Because you seem to be struggling in this area. (Oh, the irony – what is it that telecomms do again?)

  1. There’s a difference between polite and patronising. Customers can tell the difference, and we know when we’re the victim of spin.
  2. If your improved service (greater speed, LTE, etc) is going to have an impact on people’s data usage, don’t you think it would be courteous to inform them? (If that is, indeed, the reason. I’m still not convinced given that data disappears on devices that are switched off.)
  3. Stop using words like ‘escalate’ (vomit) and ‘prioritise’ if your plan is to ignore customer complaints in the hope they’ll get tired and go away. (They might. I won’t.)
  4. Talk to people as if they’re people. And don’t turn around and blame us when there’s a problem. Because really, all the indications are that there’s been a problem and that you guys are covering it up.
  5. Give us some credit for being vaguely intelligent, sentient human beings.
  6. Get back to people within a reasonable time frame. Eight days is not a reasonable time frame.
  7. How about you give us the itemised billing version of data use? I bet it’s possible. This is the age of technology!
  8. Take responsibility, be accountable, be transparent – you know, all those things we complain about from government. You’re really not doing any better, and we all know that’s not a compliment.
  9. Nothing will garner customers’ loyalty like a service provider that listens, and does the right thing. Not the thing the accountants and actuaries advise.

I think that’s enough for now. I don’t want to tax your thought processes too much. I know you need them to come up with more spin.

But it’d be nice if you actually got back to me sometime before Christmas on my escalated, prioritised query. Think you can manage that?

Please note: Large portions of this blog post have been typed in sarcasm font.

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§ 23 Responses to Hello, Vodacom?

  • Ann Rundle says:

    Infuriating. Why do companies in SA feel they have ignorant customers who they can fob off with weak excuses.

    Like

  • Beemerang says:

    I loved reading this Mandy! I just hope that Woedacom gets the tongue-in-cheek references. Wait, who am I kidding?

    Like

  • This is not just a Vodacom thing. This is ALL networks, however I first noticed it with Cell C. My data used to be up by the second week, now it’s the same with MTN. I’m not sure how 2 gigs can be used up in 2 weeks. And the “faster internet means data gets used faster” is nonsense, you use the same amount of data on a slower line speed, so why would that suddenly be more? Facebook shouldn’t suddenly load more data on a faster line.
    They should stop treating us like ignorant humans. They charge exorbitant fees for data in any case. I’m sure we’re all tired of being taken for a ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yup, I know it’s all of them, but I only have experience of Vodacom, so I thought it best to stick with them. The lack of customer service is appalling.

      Like

    • toppiesevrou says:

      There is a little truth to the faster speed more data thing, when using services like Netflix, the device can see your line speed and it adjusts your image quality accordingly, the faster your line, the higher the streaming quality, the more data used. However I don’t see how the same can ring true for social media use.

      Liked by 1 person

  • gussilber says:

    Great piece, Mandy, keep up the good fight! I had very similar problems with Cell C. It’s exhausting having to deal with call centres, & very hard to argue with “customer support” people, because basically, the argument is about intangibles disappearing into thin air. I now only use Afrihost for data. For many reasons, one of which is cost, and another the ease of monitoring your data consumption via their site, making it possible to pick up any probs or spikes on a daily basis.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Kirstie says:

    They have been adding mysterious charges for years! In 2011 I was charged nearly R1000 for a 23-hour CONSECUTIVE (who can even stay awake that long?) phone call that I made to a complete stranger off a sim card that was locked in my cupboard. They refused to admit that there was an error on their side.

    Liked by 1 person

  • George says:

    I bought 500MB on my spare phone. Switched phone off as I only needed the data when my data bundles axxess ran out. Switched it on on Saturday and I had 12th left. WT ENTIRE FOXTROT was that, I asked myself. Called them, nothing resolved to this day.
    Vodacom is playing us for fools.

    Liked by 1 person

  • My Vodacom number is in my mom’s name as she paid for the contract when I was still studying. I use it on my tablet.

    Anyway. I, too, turned data off as the one month my airtime mysteriously drained when I didn’t purchase a data bundle. It’d a mysterious case because the tenet is kept on WiFi all the time. Though okay, maybe something downloaded while WiFi dropped.

    My mom gets a call in August to say that the data bundle has been depleted (I didn’t buy a data bundle in August) and she will be charged OOB rates if she continues to use data services.

    It’s funny how that happened considering I didn’t purchase a data bundle, the data services were off and the tablet connected to WiFi. I checked the balance of airtime when I got home and the next day checked the balance again and of course money was deducted yet I didn’t even touch the tablet.

    Someone out there is scoring big time. It’s theft and really disgusting.

    Liked by 1 person

  • My Vodacom number is in my mom’s name as she paid for the contract when I was still studying. I use it on my tablet.

    Anyway. I, too, turned data off as the one month my airtime mysteriously drained when I didn’t purchase a data bundle. It’d a mysterious case because the tenet is kept on WiFi all the time. Though okay, maybe something downloaded while WiFi dropped.

    My mom gets a call in August to say that the data bundle has been depleted (I didn’t buy a data bundle in August) and she will be charged OOB rates if she continues to use data services.

    It’s funny how that happened considering I didn’t purchase a data bundle, the data services were off and the tablet connected to WiFi. I checked the balance of airtime when I got home and the next day checked the balance again and of course money was deducted yet I didn’t even touch the tablet.

    Someone out there is scoring big time. It’s theft and really disgusting.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Problem is that we’ve allowed for SP’s to get away with bad service and for their call centre staff to patronize us too long. Now when we complain they really just make you wait and see if you’ll eventually go away. Sadly many people don’t bother to follow up because it’s time consuming and we tend to give up and in even though we know the companies are up to sh*t.

    Here’s the part where I don’t say that I hope Vodacon sorts the problem out asap. This is the part where I say: VODACOM! You’re a damn service provider and your service comes at a cost dammit! You’re not giving people free data. As for your call centre employees… It would be nice talking to people who actually understands what you’re saying or knows customer service and can manage to treat a client with respect even when they panic because what you’re telling them is not part of the ‘client objections script’.

    PS: I really do hope this gets sorted asap.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Frikkie says:

    I have the same problems with Vodacom and this data thing. I booked my phone in for all this so called data loss .And what happens next —–my phone was send to Johannesburg for an ADVANCED check . 5 days later I get the sms to collect my phone . No answer on my data problems but lo and be hold I get a new phone. What was wrong with the previous one then. Why could they not solve the problem in the Cape,I am from her, and /or not wipe the phone if there was an problem on it. They are useless ,or they employ the wrong people.!!!!!

    Like

  • Gareth says:

    Honestly, I have been with them all: Vodacom, CellC, MTN & Telkom mobile. They all substandard especially seeing what we pay in SA for our calls and usage. #ridiculous

    Like

  • Steven says:

    I think the problem is there are no alternatives. It’s clear that this is not one provider specific but rather the same across all the networks, so what is the alternative??
    No data day sounds cool, but also a case of cutting off you nose to spite your face. Also makes me think of all thoes “Don’t fill up at Shell for a week”, these big conglomerates just sit back and laugh at us. Facebook last week had 1 Billion active users in a single day, our lives literally revolves around data usage, just look at how useless your phone is when you run out.
    It’s quite sad actually.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Jess says:

    I upgraded my phone to a tablet, the deal 3gigs data with a tablet for 360…bargain right. Now the tablet is a top up so if I run out of data I have to go and purchase data, end of the month comes and they give me a bill of over 4000 for high data usage! Data I did not use, try arguing with them but the next day they phone again and then my bill was all of a sudden 6700 so i told them to jump. They delete my line and say I owe them 14000! The contract 360 x 24 comes up to around 8500…where the hell do they calculate 14000!
    But you cant argue with them and they refuse to even let me do a financial plan.

    Like

  • When it comes to data, Lord Vodamort is a balaclava short of being criminal. It is now almost upgrade time again for me, which is better than Christmas. I love it. I love the new device with the new features and new capabilities. Features and capabilities that are inseparable from data, because let us be honest, you dont buy a Edge 6 or Note 5 because it makes great phonecalls. And yet on their average plan you get the minutest amount of data on your contract. They have to know that you will eventually need more. So they deliberately give you a digital pittance, so that they are guaranteed an extra pound of flesh, in addition to their already borderline exorbitant monthly fees.
    Another great example of their unashamed, unsolicited financial intercourse with their customers, is their so-called “unlimited” package; for a rediculous fee, you get unlimited everything, except for one thing that you do get just a finite amount of: data. They know very well what they are doing, but they can afford to lose some customers, so you and I don’t matter to them.

    Liked by 1 person

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