Thursday, June 29, 2006

Vodacom customer service gets it very badly wrong -- what will they do to rectify this?

Wow. What appalling service from Vodacom. I'm so angry I can hardly type.

Here's the chain of events that started this...

I'm sick in bed with flu right now. An incoming sms beep woke me up. 'Cool,' I thought, 'my girlfriend.'

It wasn't my girlfriend. It was Bogart Rosebank, a clothing store, with the following message:

'Our Winter Sale has started at Bogart Rosebank and Woodlands Pretoria, All shoes up to 25% and selected clothing items, offers at Eli, selected items up to 25%.'

Now this is not the first Bogart sms I've received. I've probably gotten at least 20 of them in the past months. Now I've phoned Bogart before to ask them to remove my cellphone number from their spam list. Aside from the fact that I didn't ASK to receive their spam in the first place, I'm not in their target market, and I despise their clothing.

So today when this sms came, I tried replying to the sms. But for some reason, that option wasn't
available. 'Odd,' I thought.

I checked message details. Instead of a number in the number field, a company name appears. It's a company called Logic SMS.

I phoned Vodacom's directory listings service, and asked for Logic SMS's telephone number. It doesn't exist. I phoned Telkom and asked the same thing. Logic SMS doesn't exist in their books.

So I decided to do the next best thing. To cut this off at the source. Vodacom is the
company ALLOWING these spam smss to get through, so they're obliged to make them

I was on hold for 17 minutes before a pleasant lady called Rowy spoke to me.

'Hi Rowy,' I said. And I explained that I wanted Vodacom to stop this spam from being allowed to get to my phone.

She couldn't help me. At first she suggested that I should phone Autopage Cellular, my service
provider. I explained that this has nothing to do with me or my service provider, and has to do with the company allowing sms spam to get through the lines, namely Vodacom. She saw it differently. 'You need to phone Bogart themselves,' she explained.

'May I speak to your supervisor?' I said.

And I got through to Charlton. He was also very pleasant. But he was toeing the party line. 'Vodacom isn't responsible for the sms. Bogart is. You need to speak to them to get you off the list.'

'Nope. You guys are the people who let the spam through, so you guys are the ones who need to stop it. I do not have any opt-out options, which you guys are obliged to provide. So I'm
holding you responsible. May I speak to your supervisor please?'

So I got through to Nita Rudman. 'Nita,' I said, 'I am receiving spam smss from a company, and I'd like Vodacom to make this stop.'

'Impossible,' she said. 'You have to phone the company that's sending the smss.'

'May I speak with your supervisor, please?'

'Can you explain WHY you want to speak to my supervisor?'

'Yes. I'd like your supervisor to take action and make the spam smss stop.'

'I've already exlpained to you that it's not Vodacom's responsibility to do this...'

'May I speak to your supervisor please?'

'Only if you explain why you want to speak to my supervisor.'

'I've already explained, and I've now been on the phone for thirty-seven minutes, and I want to speak to your supervisor please. What is your supervisor's name?'


'May I speak with Xavier, please?'

'Only when you've explained what you want to talk to Xavier about.'

This continued, on and on and on. At a certain point, I said, 'Nita, are you familiar with a technique called 'broken record'? That's where I repeat my request over and over until you put me through to Xavier?'

'Yes, I'm familiar with the technique and I can also use it,' she said. And proceeded to use it.

I got her name. And asked for her email address. 'I'm not going to give you my email address,' she said. 'I'll give you the email address of customer care.'

'I don't need customer care's email address, Nita, I need yours, because I want to cc you into the correspondence I have with your superiors.'

'Well you can't have my email address. You can have my employee number. It's 9177.'

'Is this call being recorded?' I asked. 'Cos I hope your superiors listen to it.

And then I put the phone down.

And composed this blog post, which I'm emailing to She's Group Executive -- Corporate Communications at the company, and I'm sure she'll be saddened by the
poor training her staff are receiving at dealing with customers such as me.

Dot... here are my requests:
1. Please stop Bogart/LogicSMS spam from entering my phone. The number is 082 659 3165.
2. Make it possible for all South Africans to opt out of spam.
3. Train your staff to handle queries like this.
4. Please listen to the phone recording of my chat with Nita, and note how awfully she treated me.
5. Please ask Nita Rudman, 9177, to email me an apology for the way she spoke to me.
6. Please get back to me with news about what's being done.

Thanks very much.
Blue skies

This post appears on Coffee-Shop Schmuck and The Technology Circle.

UPDATE: Friday 30 June 2006, around 3pm: I get a phone call from a service technician at Vodacom. He asks me for all of the details that were on the spam sms. I get the message up on my phone, and give him what he needs. I still haven't received any official communications from Vodacom besides this one. I'll update as and when.


Jon Gericke said...

Please update!!! This isn't the 1st time you have had bad service from Vodacom. Maybe Cell C or Virgin is a better choice for you.

What about MTN. I love them!!!

Roy Blumenthal said...

Hey Jon...

Will update when I've got some news. Yeah. Vodacom has given me some shocking service in the past six months.

But this particular issue isn't really to do with the service I got, though that was infuriating and plain old stupid on their part.

No... this issue is a bigger one. This is about a telecomms giant having their call centre staff refuse to take responsibility for an issue that they control... spam.

Let's see how it plays out.

I'm waiting for number portability, and, if I can keep the Vodacom number that I've had for about a decade, Virgin might find another friend.

Blue skies