Thursday, 22 October 2009

Does Vodacom respect us as customers - part 1

My business partner in Nurture Your Future, arrived for a meeting rather distracted. She had just received notification that her 3G data card useage was up to R4800 for the current month. This on a contract of R649 per month.

A couple of weeks later she is still struggling to get Vodacom to look into how the usage shot up in less than a week.

Wishing to learn from her bad experience I called 111 to see if I had a setting on my 3G card to warn me when I exceed my contract limit. I was informed that everyone receives an SMS to let them know when they are going to be billed for bandwidth useage outside of the contract.

My first gripe is that, that SMS is sent to the data card number. I don't use my 3G card for SMS's. I use my cellphone. In fact I don't use my card much at all as I have ADSL at my office. If something goes wrong and my data allowance is being chewed up I am not going to know anything about it. There seems to be no option to have the notification sent to another cellular number. Does Vodacom actually want me to see the message? Or do they just want to be able to say they sent it?

The call centre agent helpfully suggested that I could put a call limit lock on the card's number as well. I thought this was the perfect solution. The minimum limit allowed is R50 over contract excl VAT. So I agreed on this limit thinking "50 bucks plus VAT, that's an acceptable risk".

Then came the catch. Before they implement the limit you have to receive a request form, and return to them the reference number on that form, in acknowledgement that you have received it.

When the form arrived I found it contains a waiver. The clause reads "If for any reason whatsoever your limit is not enforced you will remain liable to pay all the charges in excess of the limit set or not."

Now I ask, why should the technology not enforce the limit? And why should it be my fault if it doesn't?

Have I not done my part in asking for it to be placed there?

To my mind this is not customer service. This is PR. The company can say it sends warning messages when certain levels of use are exceeded. It can say it has systems in place for customers to limit over use. But in reality the messages are quietly placed where they may well not be seen and they take no responsibility for enforcing the safe guards.

Does this sound like the behaviour of a company that values and respects its clients?

Friday, 16 October 2009

Experiencing the universe in action

This week I had the amazing opportunity to be connected with someone, and to see why, within hours.

It started with me receiving an e-mail advertising a charitable function. I had received this before and knew I was already committed for that evening.

This time my attention was drawn to the name of the founder of the NGO. Lets call her Sarah. There was familiarity in the name and I felt drawn to check if I had met her. She wasn't in my contact database so I googled (how else does one find people these days :-)).

I found her LinkedIn profile. My eye was drawn to the education block. Over ten years ago she had been at the same school as my daughter now attends. I am on the parent committee of that school and had been at the AGM just the night before.

This was too many coincidences. I had to make some sort of contact. So I sent an SMS to the number on the invite explaining the link and asking to connect on LinkedIn.
She replied immediately and I sent the invite.

About an hour later my cell phone rang. It was Sarah. She was having trouble replying to my LinkedIn invite. Shortly thereafter she was pouring out her frustrations and concerns about making the fundraiser a success - sharing how she had been in tears the night before. We chatted for awhile about things she could do. Nearly half an hour later we rang off with her sounding calmer and refocussed.

So often we meet people in unusual ways and in some cases years later I haven't come across the reason why that connection occured. This time I had the answer so quickly. It was awesome to be able to play a roll in the universe's fulfillment of a need.