Vodacom / misselling services to customer and lack of accountability and response for poor marketing of vodacom promotional packages
I have been a Vodacom user for over 10 years and was astounded by the poor level of service provided by Vodacom Customer Care with regards to providing a resolution and compensation with regards to a complaint which I laid where I was treated unfairly as a customer and I believe involved the misselling of services/promotional services to a customer.
Please see the below summary of my compliant and timeline of events causing the reason for me submitting this:
1) I received a call from a Vodacom sales representative positioning a promotional package towards the end of September 2016 because I was identified as a high data user. During the conversation the Sales Consultant stated that Vodacom had a promotional offer whereby instead of having to pay ZAR140 for 1 GB of data every time you run out, I could be charged an additional ZAR+-90. As a result I would save on average +- ZAR 40 per month. This seemed like a fair deal and I accepted the offer.
2) Post 1 October 2016, I started to notice material changes in my network ability and phone capability, as an example, not being able to view incoming calls. I therefore called Vodacom Customer Care to query this and they claimed that I needed to activate an additional “some service” to view incoming calls. I was extremely confused because I have been using this Vodacom mobile number for years and and never requested to de-activated this service or had issues with viewing incoming calls. I agreed to now accept additional charges for “this service”, but asked the consultant to look into how this service got de-activated without me knowing. I never received a response.
3) I then tried to make a call on a Friday night desperately and received a note saying that I had less than ZAR 3 on my phone and was unable to make a call. I was once again confused because I am on a contract Smart M package which means that I have a particular number of free minutes to call. If I exceed my minute usage then I will get charged at the end of the month for the additional minutes which I called for.
4) I had to use someone else’s phone to call Vodacom Customer Care and spent over 3 hours on the phone being transferred from one consultant to another consultant. You would explain your dilemma to the consultant who would make a note of it, then ask you to hold for over 20 minutes, only to be transferred to a different consultant where you had to repeat the same conversation. Eventually one consultant over three hours later identified that the reason why I was having difficulty was that my entire cell phone package structure had changed.
It appears that the Sales Consultant had failed to mention that by accepting a lower charge for 1 GB of data, I would change my cell phone package from being a contract to a top-up/pre-paid package. I found this extremely upsetting because as an individual I require a contract cell phone because I am required to make calls for business purposes. A pre-paid or top up package is not suitable for me. I was mislead by the promotional package because I was sold something that is not fit for the customer’s purpose. Had a known that accepting a lower charge for data would result in such frustrations like eradicating all my free minutes and changing my current phone package, I would have never accepted this “promotion”.
5) Given that this promotional offer was not fully disclosed as a migration change, this caused the following grievances and inconveniences:
a) having to use other people's phones to make phone calls to Vodacom and which incurred additional charges for me in a personal capacity as well as to those around me.
b) One of the Vodacom Customer Care consultants named Bradley Halters tried to raise an escalation on my behalf on Saturday 15 October 2016 stating the following, “The sales agent the customer spoke to on 30/09/2016 who migrated the customer’s account gave the customer misleading information. The agent promised the customer that the uChoose 350 package is the best option for her, however failed to mention that this would be a topup. The topup package does not suit the customer’s needs. The customer requested a call back once the necessary corrective action has been taken against the agent".
I would like to point out that Bradley Halters had included personal gmail account addresses on that escalation and I received no response on this item from anyone. I had to phone over 10 different consultants to try and get an update as to how they would rectify this situation and received such poor responses and support. It was clear that Vodacom did not have a proper audit trail of my correspondence or reference numbers on their systems because I kept having to repeat my same situation a hundred times to each different consultant who was unable to provide a status.
c) I had incur additional costs to load airtime in order to be able to call.
d) I had to use data to be able to draft emails complaints which has wasted a lot of time and adds more costs.
f) Customer grievance and frustration.
g) Wasting my time and energy.
h) When I wanted to lay a dedicated complaint for poor services no one was fully able to articulate whether there was a dedicated complaints line or process. This also did not seem to be online. I tried to email the previous complaints email address, but my email bounced back.
I have listed some of the Vodacom Consultants whose names I managed to write down during my conversation:
1) Patricia Gqomfa
2) Bradley Halters
3) Alricia Hartzenberg
4) Kleo Thomas
5) Karabo Lekoko
6) Kabelo Mogotsi
7) Anita Lutya
8) Justin Joseph
9) Elna Letsimo
10) Ntsika Xesi
After these multiple calls, eventually another consultant from their Investigations and Quality Control team called me on Wednesday 26 October 2016 at 11.49 am and agreed that the migration was not fully disclosed by the Sales Consultant and I would be migrated back to the Smart M package.
They agreed to migrate me back to my old package and pay for the migration charges. In addition, they agreed to look into me being compensated for the inconvenience. As of today, I received my Vodacom invoice and I have still been charged for my Vodacom migration and not received any correspondence from Vodacom wanting to re-imburse me for any inconvenience.
My biggest concern from everything was that they are selling promotional packages and not positioning and articulating all the facts of the service they are selling.
I would like to point out that this is not permissible in terms of the Consumer Protection Act for South Africa. In terms of this Act, a company should not be misleading customers and should be fully explaining how a promotional offer will impact the customer's existing package and all the impacts and cost for changes. This will allow the customer to make an informed decision before accepting anything.
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