Recovering from the 1time blues

Posted on November 03, 2012

Yesterday was an unfortunate day for many South Africans with the demise of 1time. There was chaos at the airports around the country as passengers were left stranded, some literally at the boarding gates after their luggage had been loaded, others hearing the news while on their way to the airport, and arriving to find closed check-in points and service desks. Twitter was abuzz with the news, reports of tearful employees asking sorrowfully about their jobs.

I was at OR Tambo, for a change very thankful to be flying SAA, observing all this going on around. One of the passengers boarding with me had paid R2800 to get a one-way ticket from Jhb to Durbs on the fateful Friday night. At the boarding gate there were a handful of standby passengers hoping that one of the regular fliers wouldn’t arrive so they would be able to get home. Only a few made it on, the rest were left hoping to catch another flight. A passenger relayed the story of how he flew up Friday morning, the plane only had around 40 passengers on-board, the emptiest flight he had ever been on. The pilot then made a strange comment after they landed. Instead of the usual “hope to see you aboard an xxx flight soon” he remarked that he couldn’t say he hoped to see them on a flight soon, then seemingly realising what he had said cut off the comment halfway through. Seems to indicated that even if the staff had no inkling, the pilots had some forewarning of sorts.

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Last gripe against Vodacom (overbilling)

Posted on July 14, 2012

I have moaned enough about Vodacom on here, and my last post was around my happy and seamless migration from Vodacom to Cell C. I am delighted with Cell C.

To have more grief from Vodacom was somewhat unexpected.  I just received my last bill from Vodacom. For a little bit of background. I had a 24 month contract from my son on Vodacom (amongst three others), had many issues with Vodacom so cancelled and removed various contracts. This was the last of them, it was a discounted monthly fee contract and the cancellation fee was too high to warrant early termination.

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Migrating to Cell C from Vodacom, simple and painless

Posted on June 23, 2012

After 16 long years with Vodacom the time had come. After a number of battles  (see here, here and here) trying to get them to respect me as their customer and comply with the Consumer Protection Act, the decision was made. Instead of righting their wrongs, Vodacom chose to let me cancel my contracts early (some 6 months after my CPA compliant against them). I jumped at the chance, done deal. Bye bye Vodacom.

The timing was good. Cell C had announced their 99cents prepaid option with a promise of decent contract rates to come , which have now been announced and are indeed good – for each rand you spend you get an anytime minute, a meg of data and an SMS.. I looked into how to make all this happen and found that it was not as difficult as one may imagine.

To avoid having to deal with call centres I chose to go into the Vodacom walk in customer centre in Gateway shopping centre. I explained what I wanted to the consultant and he suggested the best approach.

First thing needed was to convert my postpaid account into a prepaid account. He wanted a copy of my ID and proof of residence and within a few minutes it was done. All free minutes etc were lost in this process, but since I was leaving Vodacom I didn’t really mind.

Next stop, the Cell C shop. Again no major challenges this side. I purchased a starter pack (for 99c) and an airtime voucher (R70).

The agent then RICA’d my SIM after being supplied with the now standard ID and proof of residence. He then showed me the instructions on how to do the number port (printed on the back of the SIM pack).


All I needed to do was to send an SMS from my old number and then the process would be started, and within 24hrs I would receive some confirmation SMSs and at that point insert my new Cell C SIM card, load my airtime and Bob’s your uncle.

First snag. I tried to send the SMS but it failed. No airtime on the Vodacom prepaid SIM. Damn, I should have seen that one coming. No problem, a few hours later bought R5 airtime at the local Spar and send the SMS.

Within a few minutes I had the reply telling me all was underway, and by the next morning there were more confirmation SMSs to tell me to go ahead and insert the new SIM. With the old SIM the phone was showing NO Service, so clearly had been deprovisioned.

I popped in the next SIM and it worked a treat. Cell C SMS’d me all the new settings needed for SMS, MMS etc, applied them and all was great.

After that it was just a matter of getting used to the new voice mail services, balance enquiry and the like. Everything is running just great now. Very happy to have moved.


The painful process of recovering from an Identity Theft part 2

Posted on June 02, 2012

A short while back I wrote about my experiences with having my identity stolen –  and with Truworths, Identity and collection agencies hassling me for payment on accounts which I didn’t open.

As previously described I had some painful experiences with TransUnionITC, who in my opinion, are not respecting the National Credit Act and provide some pretty painful customer service.

Shortly after having lodged my complaint with ITC I received an SMS confirmation that the “trace alert” on my account as placed by the collection agency had been removed. Clearly due process had not been followed so that black mark against my record was resolved.

On Thursday 30th I received two more SMSs, one for each of the objections I had lodged against Truworths and Identity. The SMSs said “The account and payment history that reflected against your personal credit report with TransUnion has been deleted for TU20120502-000214-01/02″. the last two marks erased.

It took them the entire allowable period but they did remove the bad credit references on time. I received no calls back from TransUnionITC managers with respect to calls I made when none of them were available. I received no reply to the questions on my initial objection with respect to them not following the provisions of the National Credit Act. I still believe that TransUnionITC are breaking the law by virtue of not following due diligence procedures in vetting the information provided by their clients (the credit providers), by still prejudicing us (the consumers) by flagging our references being provided to credit suppliers as being suspect when a dispute is going on, and being party to this bullying process going on against the consumers.

I am not sure if I should be saying thanks to them for the pieces of the law that they actually obey, but I am still annoyed with them for treating me as a criminal and prejudicing me while their own staff don’t know the law and they are not obeying it.

The good news, I managed to dump vodacom in the meantime, and have happily and easily moved to a Cell C prepaid option (viva 99c everything). More about that in another post. Still looking forward to hearing from others having similar challenges.

If you haven’t read the original article, it includes extracts of the National Credit Act, highlighting relevant areas for cases like this. Link here.

(Posted from my iPad)

Respect for the CPA, kudos Cape Union Mart pavilion

Posted on March 04, 2012

I have had a TomTom Go Live 1000 for the last 3 months or so, and it has worked really well. Whenever I am driving around Johannesburg I am most grateful for the ability to see what is going on in the traffic and have the GPS direct me around problems, saving me time and aggravation.

In the last week the device has started giving problems. It won’t charge properly and keeps restarting (every 5 to 15 minutes) which is a real pain when it is directing you on a route you don’t know. Further, with the lack of charge it wouldn’t connect to the cell network so there were no traffic updates, making the device rather useless.

I had bought the device at Cape Union Mart at Canal Walk in Cape Town. The Pavilion branch in Westville, Durban is closest to my house so I went there this morning to try to sort out the problem. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) makes it quite clear, faulty in the first six months the consumer gets the choice of Refund, Replacement or Repair. That’s the theory anyhow, in practice it seems to seldom work out that way.

I went into the store, explained the problem and the guy behind the counter was helpful to a point. He first implied that the “top of the range” device had a common fault and lots of people were having the same problem, and that TomTom had withdrawn it and were replacing it with a new model, cold comfort. He then explained the process of getting it replaced, which involved phoning TomTom (they aren’t open on weekends), getting a reference number, then coming back to the store, waiting for a replacement etc. It sounded like a long drawn out process and wasn’t going to work well for me given my travels and work schedule. He tried to call a branch in Jhb to set it up so I could do the swap there, but didn’t have a lot of luck with getting assurances the process would be smooth and work.

At this point I reminded him of my CPA rights and requested a refund as I could then just go buy another device elsewhere and bypass all of this problem (as well as extend my warranty by another 3 months). He took this well, and then offered to swap it with (a new one) they had in the back of the store somewhere. I agreed and left a few minutes later with the new device. Why he didn’t offer this when we first started the process I don’t know, but I was still happy with the outcome.

Thanks to Cape Union Mart for respecting the CPA, even if you did need a little coaxing and reminding. Don’t forget your rights, you can have a successful outcome to other painful situations if you just remind the service providers of your rights.


Finally got my phone back from Vodacom… Thanks Helena and @UysPJ

Posted on August 03, 2011

My ongoing saga with Vodacom with respect to my faulty phone is now (mostly) resolved. Thanks to Helena and @uyspj.

Background for those who missed it :

  • Got a new HTC desire on contract during late May
  • It worked for +- 10 days then died
  • Took it back to Vodacare, they confirmed it was dead (at very least the battery was stone dead and couldn’t be “boosted”), I asked for replacement under CPA as I thought was my right, they said go back Vodashop
  • Vodashop manager was extremely unhelpful, said CPA doesn’t apply to them, and they don’t represent Vodacom
  • I left the phone at the shop (on the counter and walked out) after laying a complaint with Vodacare against the shop
  • Same day I laid a complaint on Hello Peter
  • Had various interactions with Vodacom people over two months, nothing useful – weeks would go by while they were “waiting for feedback” from someone else

I sent a twitter message to @uyspj (just one) who responded immediately. Thank you Pieter, I really do admire you for interacting with your clients and following through on your actions.

@uyspj had Helena call me the next day, she asked a whole lot of questions, I mailed through what I had and forwarded various SMS’s, Helena then followed up for me.

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Another Vodacom “lost” “free” minute debacle – Now Vodacom 5, Consumer 0

Posted on July 18, 2011
Vodacom vs the consumer

Who's your daddy

When you renew a contract with Vodacom they don’t carry forward accumulated free minutes to the new contract.  Huh?  How can this be? How come nobody told me this before?

I complained on Twitter to @vodacom111 who quickly asked for me details and had a representative call me. I was really impressed at the response rate (that is something you guys are really getting right), it was much quicker than calling the call centre.

I explained the details to the Vodacom representative who seemed to think I had made a mistake and this can’t be right.

Here is what he could determine.  I was carrying forward a few minutes each month, I used them all in May and had none to carry forward to June. That didn’t sound right to me so I asked him to check for me on the details. How many minutes were carried forward from April to May, and how many did I use in May. (The contract was renewed late May).

It took a while, their system is slow, but he got an answer. There were 87 minutes carried forward from April to May. I was allocated 120 more in May. I used 119  in May (not sure that is right, but won’t argue).  That means the 87 (+1) should carry forward to June. The problem is that the system reflects ZERO carried forward to June.  After seeing this the Representative conceded there was a problem. He logged a call on my behalf, made sure I was SMS’d the reference number, and I received the SMS which states my problem will be attended to within a day. Having heard that before (on previously unresolved complaints) I have my doubts, but we will see tomorrow.

Update : Lesley contacted me yesterday (19th July)  lunchtime, read me some numbers, which seemed to be back to a position of saying I didn’t lose any minutes. Hard to get it all over the phone so I asked for the info to be emailed to me. Maybe I did get this all wrong? She agreed, I waited all afternoon, no email. Then at 5:30pm I received this SMS “Good day Mr Justin Regarding the free minute, i logged your request with our (IT) department to assist with information. will give feedback on e-mail after receiving feedback from them. Kind regards, Retentions and Upgrades and Cancellations Admin Team Lesley ####”. Glad to receive the feedback, let’s see whether the email arrives to provide the necessary info.  As of the 24th July, still no feeedback

While this was going on I had another twitter user (Mandy) send me a message. She upgraded mid-month. They zapped her free minutes, then billed her for the calls she made. 500 minutes lost and a big bill to deal with. This happened about 3 months ago and she got nowhere in trying to complain and get it resolved. I mentioned this to my friendly rep, who suggested Mandy also contract @vodacom111. I messaged Mandy suggesting she does. Will keep you posted on her progress if I find more info.

Seems this poor customer services and putting the customer last is rife. I will update this post with any further progress I get from Vodacom, as well as with the info from any other people who have similar stories. If this all sounds too familiar, please share your stories. The more the better, maybe we can get a positive result here, and at least make more people aware of what is going on.

If you were following my previous post : Vodacom vs the Consumer (Protection Act) – We lose, four nil – for now well, I guess this makes it a good solid Vodacom Five  –  Consumer Nil 

The news today that the consumer commissioner, Mamodupi Mohlala, has looked at the contracts the phone companies are still using and says they are not compliant at all with the CPA is good news. Cell C is closest to compliant but all the service providers need to fix their contracts. This revelation comes as Mohlala prepares to sign consent order agreements this week with the chiefs of each of the companies. If they don’t comply within the agreed timeframes (a few more months) they face fines up to a million Rand. More info here.

Update (4/8/2011) :

Another Vodacom representative from a different department (billings I think he said) contacted me. He explained a few things :

  • My current balance was +-280 minutes
    • this means that if I used none in June and July (which isn’t the case) then there would still have to have been at least 40 carried over from May, which seems to indicate to me that the May carry over had happened.
  • He could not see any lost minutes (and nor could I with the “new” balance)
  • My contract had changed from a per minute to per second billing when I did the upgrade
  • In response to my question on the previous phone calls and discussions and why minutes appeared to have been lost, he did say that sometimes the carryover can take a while to reflect, and that maybe a balance had not been updated on time.
All in all, problem resolved. I am still at a loss as to why it takes so many calls and discussions to resolve a simple matter, and why it is so complicated to have an email showing me the balances, useage and carryover (I still don’t have the email BTW, but it is no longer relevant).

Cancelling a Vodacom contract due to poor signal

Posted on July 15, 2011

In my searching around trying to find out how people are faring with the CPA and getting the cell providers to commit to their obligations under CPA I came across this interesting post in the BlackBerry Forums ( located here.

This applies where you have a genuine case of not being able to get signal in a key location where you need to use the phone/device. It is going to take effort and perseverance on your part, so don’t bother if it isn’t that important to you.  Thanks to Raggie007 for the tips below :

  1. When ever you have signal issues log a call to the call centre 155
  2. Persevere and make sure they don’t just close the call
  3. After the fifth call about poor signal insist on a signal test, this can take up to two weeks even if they do the test the same day
  4. Be there for the test, and take note of the testers mane and cell number if you can get it
  5. Insist that you want a cancellation as by this point you will have had BAD service for 4-5 weeks
  6. Eventually they will cancel but will want the phone back or want to charge you for the phone
This post was dated BEFORE the new CPA came into effect. The CPA should make your case even stronger as you would have a device/service that is not fit for purpose. Goodluck.
Read my previous post on Cellular and CPA here.
If you have a general problem with Vodacom, try tweeting to @vodacom111, he responds quickly and gets someone to call you. Helps a lot.

Vodacom vs the Consumer (Protection Act) – We lose, four nil – for now!

Posted on July 13, 2011

Vodacom and MTN continued their strong financial performance over the last year, and executives from these companies benefited from the higher profits, with the CEOs take home millions as revenues and profits increase in the telecommunications market. Vodacom’s annual report for the year ended 31 March 2011 reveals that CEO Pieter Uys received a total remuneration of R13,190,826 – up from R10,700,571 a year ago. (Article from Mybroadband).

So how are we, the consumer doing? Well, we have a new Consumer Protection Act (CPA) that came into effect from 1st April 2011 to help protect us in our interactions with the big boys who have the money (and lawyers) to make sure they get their way most of the time. Andrew Weeks’s article written back in October, “The Consumer Protection Act and the cellular industry Q&A“, gave me hope that things would change (link here).

Let’s see how things stack up.

Compensation for no service (or service interruption)?

Just a few days ago there was a major outage on the Vodacom network. Customers lost signal in parts of the country (from Cape Town to Johannesburg and inbetween) for most of the day. Many incensed customers let their dissatisfaction be known, thousand of posts appearing on Twitter all day. Pieter Uys, to his credit, ate humble pie and give his apologies on twitter, on Radio, in full page newspaper adverts and in other forums. The question then arose, will customers be compensated, and if so how.

National Consumer Commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala said that an apology from Vodacom is not good enough, and that Vodacom should refund their effected subscribers as laid out in the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Mohlala told Radio 702 that if Vodacom’s subscribers can prove loss of income they can claim compensation from Vodacom through the CPA.

Update (25/7/2011) : 7 complaints were received by the Commissioner and forwarded through to Vodacom for comment. Nothing received back yet but this is still under investigation and could result in sanction. Details here  @ Good news indeed for the consumers.


Vodacom vs the consumer

Who's your daddy

Vodacom : No way

Vodacom spokesperson Richard Boorman said that Section 54 of the Consumer Protection Act does not make provision for a claim for damages such as loss of business or income.

“We will be responding directly to ICASA and the National Consumer Commission with respect to their inquiries on this topic,” said Boorman. (from Mybroadband)


Vodacom 1  Consumer 0

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Getting what’s due in terms of the Consumer Protection Act

Posted on April 06, 2011

The new Consumer Protection Act came into effect from the 1st April 2011.  To quote from the DTI website : “I know my rights. Do you know yours? you have rights as a consumer.  understand them.  enforce them.”

On the plane on Friday night I read in the paper (don’t remember which one, think it was one of the Cape local papers) that as consumers we now have the right to cancel an advance booking, and that the supplier may deduct a fee if we do so, but that they cannot refuse to provide a refund. Over the weekend I was looking at airline tickets and found that Travelstart have a policy which is in contravention of this. Simply put, unless you pay extra for a “Cancellation policy” you cannot get a refund for a ticket cancellation. This appears to me to be in contravention of the Act so I mailed them as below :

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