Today, the 25th January, marks the 39th day that Vodacom has had my Blackberry 9900 and the 32nd day since my last communication from Vodacom. The last communication I received was on the 25th December 2012 at 11:29 telling me that “job number 8428628 is currently in the assessment process at the Advanced Repair Centre.”
This message was identical to the one I received on the 21st December and the 19th December. The 18th December message merely informed me that my phone had been booked in, in case I didn’t know. I handed my phone in on the 18th December at your “Customer Care” branch in Eastgate Shopping Centre. The experience wasn’t entirely unpleasant, although I could have done without the young man, who had so efficiently printed my queue number, REPEATEDLY bashing his frozen Vodacom - Branded bottle of water against the counter-top.
Now, watching a member of your staff, rather prophetically, loudly smashing the Vodacom name onto a hard surface is not the reason for my email (Although I do appreciate the irony), I merely wish to share my Vodacom experience with you and perhaps have some questions answered along the way.
December 2011, one year ago, I upgraded my phone and contract with Vodacom and found myself in possession of the Blackberry 9900. It didn’t take me very long to realise that the battery-life on the phone was appalling. Now it is an accepted fact that the average battery-life of smartphones is pretty short. However, it was more accurate to say I had a battery-visit than a battery- life. I was charging my phone 3 times a day, living in constant fear that I would receive a phone call when I was more than 30 seconds away from my charger.
After a while, the phone stopped charging almost altogether, cutting out at will, or displaying the hourglass image that all Blackberry users dread. As I was losing the battle, I paid Vodaworld a visit and handed my then 6 month old phone in for repairs. It was suggested I wait while they quickly test the phone to see what the problem was so I would have an idea how long the repair would take. After a ‘quick’ hour and half wait, it seemed more intelligent to leave and be contacted by Vodacom. (More on this later).
Luckily I chose this option as the 48 hour wait in the coffee shop would have been unbearable. I was informed that my phone was in fact faulty and they would refurbish the phone completely and I would have my phone back by the end of the week. In hindsight I should have asked which week. 4 weeks later I had my phone back, with a fabulous all-day battery and none of my contacts.
Over the next few months, I came to realise that there was now a new problem, having a signal was a bit of a luxury, 3G had achieved Holy Grail status. I have developed such an irrational hatred for SOS written in red. For a further 6 months I persevered as the signal battle seemed to be a lesser evil than returning to Vodaworld.
Sadly on the 18th December 2012, I lost the battle again. It seems my phone decided it had had enough and died. I wasn’t even seeing the little hour glass. And so, off I went to your Customer Care branch in Eastgate. The clerk was a man of few words but informed me that it could take up to 2 weeks for my phone to be repaired and I would receive an SMS providing me with further information. Now I wonder how I am meant to read this SMS as I see no place on my sim card where one is able to receive and read messages. Does Vodacom work on the assumption that people have several handsets at their disposal should their preferred one decide to take a break? Perhaps Vodacom would write it in the sky for me? Or is it actually that Vodacom could care less as they think the village in which their market is situated has many idiots or to be better than their competitors is just trying too hard and too much effort.
As I raged about the developments, it occurred to me that the clerk was just that, a clerk. I tried to contact Vodacom via the website and included the required information from the sim card but unfortunately I am unable to send a DNA sample as an attachment and I am unprepared to include my ID number, bank and bank account type in an email. I respect the need for security, but surely a person with unauthorised possession of my phone and sim card is not going to contact Vodacom to voice their dissatisfaction with said phone and Vodacom’s service? What avenue is available to me and other Vodacom customers? Do I contact a Vodacom call centre, only to be confronted with another disinterested clerk who has more than likely spent his entire day fielding phone calls from irate customers, to hear the scripted ‘appropriate’ response in a desperate attempt to get me off the phone, while he prays for 5PM?
So 39 days later I am paying off a phone that I have been unable to actually use since I received it, paying for a BIS that I haven’t used for 39 days and receiving my Vodacom bill on time, with most efficiency. I’m sure that if I decided I was not going to continue to pay for a service I am not receiving, ON TIME, the remaining services would be cut off with, yes you guessed it, most efficiency. Much like SARS is the most efficient Government Department, so is your accounts department. And after this rant I am sure the stock standard response will be “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, a consultant will contact you shortly”, only to inform me that my re-refurbished phone is ready for collection. None of which is good enough. I do not want a re-refurbished phone and I’m pretty sure Vodacom could do better than that. I fear my patience has been tested to its limits. And Vodacom will not care. But I will have to one day sit through a Vodacom advert and hear your slogan “power to you” when the truth is, as a Vodacom customer, I have none at all.