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Vodacom / avoid vodacom like the plague - their 'customer service' is so pathetic it will make your head spin!

South Africa
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If you are reading this and you are a new cell phone customer or are planning to change your cell phone provider, let this serve as a fair warning. I sincerely recommend you avoid Vodacom like the plague, especially if you are planning to enter into any contracts with them, sign debit orders, etc. Trust me on this, you will regret the day you opened an account with them or buy anything from them.

I have been a Vodacom customer for more than 15 years. Never, but never did I imagine the day would come that I would get such poor service from any company. Look, service can get pretty bad in this country, but Vodacom really does rank among the poorest of the poor. They are pathetic. Things have certainly changed over the years and gone downhill so fast it makes your head spin.

Don’t believe me? Then try this for yourself: look for their Customer Care number. Where do you lodge a complaint? Go ahead; try to find someone to talk to. And I am not talking about dialing 100 or 082111 – that is a complete waste of time because you will not find any option at all that will connect you with someone who you can lodge a complaint with. Go ahead and see how far you get. Their complaints department works solely by email. I wonder why? I tried that too – no joy. Just got two standardized template responses from some faceless person.

If you are still reading this, I guess you are curious about my story. Well, it is no big deal really. My cell phone was stolen recently. I am a prepaid customer (thank God..less drama!) and I wanted to get my old number back, for the simple reason that all my bank sms’s and other notices goes to my existing number. I wanted to avoid the effort of having all my details changed everywhere I am listed as a client or customer. I wanted nothing more from Vodacom that just that – my old number.

Well, it took me almost a week and I had to go to FOUR different retail stores, as well through their so-called “customer care via email”, to get it sorted. The only reason I got it fixed eventually was because I got lucky, no other reason. Forget about getting any support from Vodacom Customer Care – it is a joke! In fact, I don’t think it really exists.

After being ignored, offended, insulted and shunted by four of their stores, I finally ended up at Vodashop in the Kolonnade Center in Pretoria. I was served by an individual by the name of Charnelle Smith, who (believe it or not) is the so-called ‘Team Leader’ for the store. Ms
Smith was very impatient with me and clearly not in the mood to serve anyone, especially not me. She kept rolling her eyes and shrugging her shoulders. First off she was visibly disgusted when she discovered that I was a prepaid customer. Sies man! And on top of that I had the audacity not to RICA my sim. Despicable me!
Next Ms Smith informed me in no uncertain terms that I could not get my old number back, unless I give her a list of the five phone numbers I have dialed regularly from my phone. Now, I ask you…do you know which 5 numbers you phone the most? And can you recall them all from memory?

Ms Smith said that if I could not give her 5 numbers there was NO OTHER WAY that I could prove that the number belonged to me. The implication is therefore that it is much easier for the criminal, who stole my phone, to sim swop my number than it is for me, the owner. All he needs to do is copy the numbers off my phone and submit them to Ms Smith and her efficient team at Vodashop…and voila…he is the owner of a brand new phone number linked to all my bank accounts!

Charnelle Smith offered me no alternatives or options to prove my ownership; she was also not going to make any effort to go outside her little operational box. She said that the system requires 5 numbers and that was that. For example, she did not suggest I call someone I know and get numbers of family and friends I may have dialed. She was also not interested in me bringing her a set of bank statements for the past 6 months / year (what the heck I have proof over YEARS) that I used my bank account to recharge my account. All she said was “computer says no…”. End of story. She could not help me and she had no intention of trying to keep me as a Vodacom customer. The computer says no.
Since all I wanted from Vodacom was my old number, I might as well go to another company and start on a new prepaid sim card. I would only lose my old number, but they would lose a loyal customer who has spent at the very least R50, 000.00 with them over the past decade, on phone calls and data bundles.

But Ms Charnelle Smith, Team Leader of Vodashop Kolonnade, could really care less and did not even flinch when I explained to her that Mr or Ms Zwelethu Sigege, Senior Consultant (nogal) at Vodacom Customer Care at her Head Office referred me there. Since customer complaints management appears to be non-existent in the company, it comes as no surprise that Ms Smith could care less. Her attitude clearly showed that she thought my little issue was a storm in teacup and that nothing further would come of it. I guess she had much bigger fish to fry, no doubt.

Well, I did promise her that she will be hearing from me again. Therefore the effort with writing this long story down. I am going to post this on every complaints website and consumer message board I can find. Since Vodacom offers no decent customer complaint support – well then I will just complain to the rest of the world. I will be spreading this information as far and wide as I can manage. The least I can do is warn other potential customers. And maybe this will get Ms Smith some more training, because she desperately needs it.

By the way, after I left Vodashop I dropped in at the Vodacom 4U in the Kolonnade and guess what…I was lucky enough to bump into a friendly, professional and helpful young man by the name of Lloyd Germishuys. Lloyd clearly had an above average IQ and took his work seriously. So, there is a tip for Cell C, Heita and MTN…if you are looking for more people to join your team…call Lloyd, because his talent is wasted where he is now.
Anyway, Lloyd listened patiently to my boring, sad story. Then he offered me a seat, asked me two or three simple questions (for instance, the date and amount of my last recharge) and within ABOUT 5 MINUTES I HAD A BRAND NEW SIM, I HAD REGISTERED MY DETAILS WITH RICA AND I HAD MY OLD NUMBER BACK.

5 MINUTES….THAT’S ALL IT TOOK MS SMITH.

What Vodacom does in future is really no longer concerns me. I am so done with them. I will be transferring my number to another service provider. Maybe Cell-C is an option, after all those promises they have been making on billboards and TV.

And to Mr Lloyd Germishuys, I would just like to say…get out of that company as soon as you can. You can do better. And thanks for your kindness. I was a victim of a hijacking last week and lost my car, wallet with all my bank cards, my ID, driver's licence, cellphone, etc. Everything. Your patience, kindness and support was a blessing to me, may you receive it in return threefold.

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