SA unhappy with cellphone operators

2012-08-01 09:22

Cape Town - The majority of mobile phone subscribers in South African are unhappy with the operators, industry research has shown.

A massive 70% of subscribers are unhappy with their current network and a significant percentage would consider switching, according to research from independent ad network InMobi.

Counter-intuitively, price is not the most compelling complaint as only 17% directly indicated that they were unhappy because of it.

Most (25%) are frustrated with limited data coverage, and hidden charges (8%) and customer service (7%) made up the top four grievances.

The research suggested that 36% would switch to a competing network if it offered better data coverage and offers to be on the same network as friends or family attracted 31% of interest.

Data revenues

As competition in the South African market heats up, the operators have been driving data revenues up through various offers.

"The demand remains strong; there's strong competition in the SA market. Data revenue is up 24% year-on-year. The active data customers [are] up 35%: Now just over 12 million [and] all of the 12 million are buying data bundles on a monthly basis," Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys told News24 when the operator released its annual results.

The survey showed that 46% of mobile phone users would switch networks if the right offer came along and 11% are actively looking to switch.

In the eyes of consumers, Vodacom has the strongest brand association, scoring 57% for customer service, 60% for network coverage, and 42% for value.

MTN consistently scored in second place, average just over 30%. Cell C was third, but Telkom's 8ta didn't make it on to the results.

Cell C is on a charge to increase its market share in SA and recently launched its 99 Cents for Real campaign.

New CEO Alan Knott-Craig said that the operator was on a charge to build a better network.


"The number one priority is I have to make sure that we can build a world class quality network with a footprint which is competitive or better than the other network operators. We cannot build a company without a proper network," he told News24.

According to the InMobi survey, 51% of consumers want free bonus talk time and 38% want bonus data from their network.

The growth is data is particularly driven by smartphones which have growing in SA as pricing continues to decline and a growing percentage have a data bundle attached, Vodacom said.

"Smartphones remain the key driver of the data revenue growth - the active smartphones growing by two million in the year. Smartphones are now making up a fifth of our active handsets," said Uys.

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  • gavin.simpson.0 - 2012-08-01 09:33

    Mtn and vodacom should be shut down. Thet are useless,esp mtn.

      Stormkaap - 2012-08-01 10:09

      They're extremely arrogant when it comes to customer service..and the call centres should be shut down!

      logical007 - 2012-08-01 10:20

      @ stormkaap What call centres??? cant get through to any of them but when you finally do, staff are unfriendly and totally clueless!

      jordaanjean - 2012-08-01 11:46

      It is not just MTN and Vodacom , you should try and speak to the incompetent people at Cell C. The worst Customer service I have ever had. As soon as my contract expires with them I am off to Vodacom. Most of them do not understand English, they mumble and eat while on the line with you. They promise to call back but NEEEEVER do. They are dishonest, incompetent arrogant people. They even tried to pin their mistake on me. Saying it is my fault that they never called me back. What cheek !!

      klippies.coke.7 - 2012-08-01 13:02

      I will take Vodacom over MTN any day... however, their data charges are ridiculous. R1 per MB outside your bundle, that's daylight robbery!! I will be moving to Cell C within the next month.

      Revelgen - 2012-08-01 13:54

      The truth is that all cellphone companies here are totally ripping off the public and making obscene profits. Obviously there is collusion because charging a rand a minute to talk - or much more - is utterly disgusting. They have covered most of SA with masts so have very little capital expenditure today. Bloody sharks the lot of them.

      skootzie - 2012-08-01 15:00

      MemeMan, apart from the occasional crappy customer service call centers (they're much more helpful at the stores), CellC has offered me the best deals, prices and packages to date. I've tried MTN, Voda and CellC and the first two don't even come close. CellC out of bundle data is 30c/mb, phone calls are cheap - especially with the 99c deal now. When it comes to Smartphones and Android, CellC are on the ball. When the new Android OS ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) was released, CellC released it on the same day - a few hours behind the rest of the world. Vodacom were a day or two after CellC, as far as I know, MTN still haven't released ICS to their Android users (my mate is with them and hasn't had his update yet); note, ICS was launched over a month ago now. 8ta have good deals too, but I can't comment on their service. They offer great data deals with their modems - browsing and download speeds are insane! :)

      louis.olivier.988 - 2012-08-01 16:52

      I don't like the additional charge for a detailed bill, They are a bloody rip off. It's no longer sent via snail mail it on the internet. It's F...... ridiculous that I must pay to see what I'm billed for. There are instances where these F........ send me some cr.p about a new phone with the option to cop out with the word "Send the word STOP" are they charging me for the SMS return. In the first place they are breaking the law since I never authorized them to send me that advert/rubbish and secondly I don't know if I’m being charged for the return STOP SMS

  • heinrich.spreeth - 2012-08-01 10:12

    Stop with all the bonus talk time and data. Lower the rates so it is a simple system for people to understand. I'm sure most people are just stupid and don't understand what they sign for and then get angry when they get a big phone bill.

      kevin.vanblerk - 2012-08-01 10:49

      I agree, especially the 'hidden' data costs. With all the smart phones available nowadays data costs can be a huge surprise at the end of the month.

      kevin.vanblerk - 2012-08-01 10:55

      oh and why can the Service Providers not have smaller cheaper data bundles that carry over, why on earth does it have to expire at the end of the month? We are being ripped off by data and SMS costs.

      skootzie - 2012-08-01 15:07

      Smartphones have thousands of downloadable apps that allow you to track your data usage, the new Android ICS has a built-in data monitor for free. People just need to be more proactive and less retroactive towards their data usage.

  • moruthane - 2012-08-01 10:13

    MTN is the worst when it comes to poor service...

      Dean - 2012-08-01 13:02

      No... Sorry. You're completely wrong there... MTN is the worst when it comes to EVERYTHING! There, I fixed it for you. ;)

      heiku.staude - 2012-08-24 17:09

      Wow cool to see that everyone agrees on that. Now I know I'm not insane.

  • damien.blaauw - 2012-08-01 10:23

    I must say that our mobile service providers have lots to learn about giving value-added service. They all blocked off AT&T when they wanted to enter the space, knowing full-well they would be given a lesson in pricing, service & overall value. why are they still punting 24 month contracts on cellular & 36 months on data. Look around! Even India has cheaper packages with greater service offerings than ours! This is simply a case of raking in the profits and not attaching real value!

  • captaine.morgan.90 - 2012-08-01 10:25

    Nationalise!! Hehe ... We can then have even lousier service, but hey, the charges will be acceptable. Govt can subsidise for the poor folk and we all benefit.

      dries.appelgryn - 2012-08-01 15:45

      If it moves, tax it. If it keeps on moving the Nationalise it. If it stops moving then subsidise it. Ala ANC.

  • UNITY - 2012-08-01 10:29

    Its amazing how network operators like Cell C can drop their rates suddenly to 99 cents per minute. This is a clear reflection that all network operators are ripping the consumer to bits with cellphone and data costs. These operators run their businesses lean, employ less people, make high GP margins, increase stocks and shareholders values, while using yor money to achieve their selfish and greedy objectives. Where's the ethics or any value offering in that! Subscribers are paying more while prepaid subscribers pay less and get more! Does that make sense or are consumers gullable!!! They are no better than the government!

  • sean.murphy.165 - 2012-08-01 10:40

    All of the networks are equally bad. They sell us wonderfull new smartphones with talk of wonderfull connection speeds but these connection speeds do not exist in most areas because the networks do not have the capacity to deliver. In SA we pay very hi cell charges but this money is not used to improve and update the networks locally but is invested instead in setting up networks in other countries where cahrges are much cheaper. The networks rip us off and then expand into other countries which we subsidize.

  • wesley.bischoff - 2012-08-01 10:42

    Yeah, Vodacom takes all my airtime without notifying me, R315 one shot. MTN at the office is constantly losing 3G signal or giving DNS problems. Complaints don't seem to bother them. Why would they care, when they know we are all locked into a contract and have to pay? What is the point of offering smartphones, with a complimentary 200mb? They KNOW that data usage / browsing is more, so they know they will milk us dry.

      wesley.bischoff - 2012-08-01 10:44

      MTN charged our business nearly R10,000 for 3G internet. There is a 2gb cap, but they are supposed to notify when the cap is nearly used up. That didn't happen. And we showed them that data was used over a weekend, when we were in Knysna for a funeral. Do they care? No

  • lydonmcg - 2012-08-01 10:49

    Extremely unhappy with Vodacom as of late. And disgusted that they're constantly following the lead of Cell C in terms of pricing and innovation.

  • victor.windsor - 2012-08-01 10:54

    They should reduce the contracts down to 12 months only like the rest of europe and stop being greedy, as they have made enough money already !!!!!

  • hendrikvs - 2012-08-01 10:57

    There is no better operator to move to - they are all the same. Bad service, high prices, bad connectivity......and the list goes on and on. Time for a strong international operator to enter the market to teach them a lesson.

  • carolyn.myburgh - 2012-08-01 11:02

    Costs are too high, contracts are too long and accounts departments are useless

  • mrp721 - 2012-08-01 11:07

    I switched from Vodacom, never again will I have a contract with vodacom, customer service is pathetic, network coverage was a problem, and the list goes on, wouldn't even consider a contract with MTN, they are just as pathetic, currently with Cell C, I have not had one 3G problem, have always been helped in an efficient manner when I have had a query etc.. But with that said I have only been with them for 6 months, so lets see, still keeping a close eye on them....

  • ilze.ihlenfeldtvoges - 2012-08-01 11:17

    MTN has the worst customers service. I have accounts with all three operators and by far it takes the longest to sort out any query you have with MTN. We have a billing issue that has not been resolved for 21 months, so our one line gets cut off every Monday morning, we then have to phone in every Monday morning to get the line unblocked until the following Monday.

      AwesomeF1 - 2012-08-01 14:40

      We are going on 12 months with our MTN billing issue and still being incorrectly charged for a cancelled contract. We have had to use another operator while we sort out our issue. Go figure.

  • richard.townleyjohnson - 2012-08-01 11:27

    I would switch my mobile SP to any new operator with semi-decent service. In fact, I would take a knock on everything if it meant being part of Vodacom or MTN going bankrupt. Our telecoms industry is way too damn comfortable (and arrogant). I want them to fail.

  • tsimane.manzi - 2012-08-01 11:43

    These operators think they are clever! Even the government itself is far better than them. You buy R10 now but u make a call for less than 3 minutes! Pathetic! We want better offers! I sold my mtn modem bcos it was so useless! How can u load a data bundles worth R100 but u only browse less than 20 pages and it's gone! We need a new and international network!

  • mholthuysen - 2012-08-01 12:21

    Agreed - I simply cannot understand why we are still being ripped off by phone charges; whereas you get better service, no drop calls and fast internet for almost free in Europe, Asia and America?

  • nmateke - 2012-08-01 12:37

    MTN is very bad lately, MTN user keep loosing network connection ..... I use MTN for years now and its not easy to change , but I think now is time!-----> CellC

  • LynneOeschger - 2012-08-01 13:08

    If data costs are a problem on any device, use Opera Mini - it shrinks data down on more than 3000 handsets by up to 90% and will work on non-3G networks.

  • LynneOeschger - 2012-08-01 13:35

    Mobile data costs can be lowered by up to 90% if you use the Opera Mini browser. Regardless of phone (works on more than 3000 handsets) and most networks - as in 2G, 3G.

  • Msika - 2012-08-01 13:38

    Majority of South Africans are unhappy about almost everything in this country...if you think I am nuts, read the comments in news24. So, nothing suprising or new there.

      esther.coetzee.50 - 2012-08-01 16:55

      Are you surprised that majority of SA's are unhappy with everything? Are you satisfied with the service delivery of your municipality,state departments,roads,water quality,electricity,police,health care,education,traffic police,behaviour of taxi drivers and other road user, etc?? If you are, you are one of a lucky few and are definitely not from somewhere on the platteland

  • bretton.eveleigh - 2012-08-01 13:53

    That 70% are definitely MTN and Vodacom, the still continuing with 2000's tactics to stay in the game... hello boys the game has moved on... hello CellC and 8ta!

  • 19SideWaysView - 2012-08-01 14:12

    I am with MTN - my wife is unable to activate her voice mail 2 months after having received her new iPhone despite numerous requests and complaints. This is but one of a littany of complaints. I despise these service providers because they do not actually provide a service and at the same time are the most expensive in the world and make enormous amounts of money. There are 2 words to describe them. GREEDY & ARROGANT!!!

  • AwesomeF1 - 2012-08-01 14:26

    Kind of stating the obvious. Just peek on hellopeter. their conversion ratios are dreadful even though they're "active". But I am glad there is data to back it up now.

  • AwesomeF1 - 2012-08-01 14:29

    What is not mentioned is the HUGE problem of networks not being able to justify the charges of data supposedly used. If they give you reports, its lists of numbers and IP addresses with websites in seperate reports and no record of originating SIM and device ID's!!!! Seems like the market is very ripe for someone to step up to the plate with cheap traceable data and real service. Hint hint, anyone listening, anyone???

  • brendonml - 2012-08-01 14:55

    New data rates from Cell C - 15 cents per meg in and out of bundle....hence no more need to buy a bundle. 500 megs now cost R75.

  • tugwana.gwalagwala - 2012-08-01 15:04

    I'm with Vodacom & they are so pathetic on service and their network isn't reliable. Evey two minutes my call will get dropped for no reason. I've reported that 3 times already but up until today I have not recieved a sane feedback beyond a useless reference number. I once nearly crushed my cellphone in frustration, but I then realised that this a network reated problem. When my contract expires mid-next year, Vodacom will never see me again. Cell-C is the way to go for me, I'll try sample their value chat package.

  • anne.erasmus - 2012-08-01 15:18

    I love Cell C. I got great service and pain-free assistance when opening my contracts with them from the guys at the Cell C Store in Morning Glen shopping centre in Gallo Manor, Sandton. I haven't had too many queries or problems, but my first port of call is the store - they are always helpful! Only problem I had was a misunderstanding on my part - their Facebook page worked like a charm and I had an answer within 15 minutes. I've never called the call centre though - but Cell C have been fabulous so far.

  • jacques.buckle - 2012-08-01 17:04

    8ta works for me

  • kerwin.vandermerwe - 2012-08-01 17:23

    All the cellphone network providers in South Africa are useless, with Cell C topping the list. Customer Service does not exist with these operators. They needs to learn a thing or two from their counterparts abroad. We, the South African public are suffering.

  • neil.bezuidenhout - 2012-08-01 18:12

    I'm still receiving demands for outstanding payments from MTN 10 years later on phone lines I didn't even have. Every time I provide one letter, their story change and their demands are different.

  • prieurp34 - 2012-08-01 22:37

    Someone should do something about Vodacom BIS and RIM, I have a Blackberry 9900 Bold and my network related problems when downloading content, its frustrating slow and most times (8/10) times it ends up showing an error message! I'm paying more than R500 a month for my contract and I'm on the verge of changing to another service provider if Vodacom does not do something about BIS because its failing to empress me!!!!

  • gregory.jurgens - 2012-08-02 08:40

    Vodacom are thieves, R159.00 for 500 megs. SA is been ripped off.

  • Grant Fourie - 2012-08-03 08:08

    MTN service is not great

  • hamish.drake1 - 2012-08-08 08:55

    So that is why Knott-Craig has just put up the data prices. He wants to build "world class quality network", but doesn't have the money. Cell C is about to lose data customers and it was the only thing they were best at. Muppets

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