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Me and my cell, aah, me and my cell…..

Friday, 12 April, 2013

By PG Jonker

I recently entered into a contract with my mobile service provider for a rather special deal on a smartphone for my daughter.  We were extremely impressed with the product.  Until the next day.  By then we already had to upload R70 to keep the phone running – and that on a R100 per month package.

I made some enquiries and quickly learnt that you cannot realistically run a smartphone on a budget of R100 per month, except if you switch off all the possible applications to be had.  Which means that the phone can then actually do LESS than the previous not-so-larnie phone she had on a R100 per month contract?

The product, hence, cannot meet the goal for which it was purchased.

I decided to send a complaint to the service provider through their website.  I promptly received an automated response.    A week later I sent their automated response back to them asking whether I could expect a more substantive response from them.  I promptly received an automated response.  It is now two weeks later, and it seems like I have to accept that the automated response is the only response there is going to be.

In the meantime my daughter, who has a bit of IT savvy, managed to get by with the phone, switching off all the data- and airtime gobbling gremlins.  She kept a keen watch on the available airtime to monitor how she fares.  Then she noticed that every evening at 18h00 an amount of R6 is being deducted from her phone.

Ok, by now I know that the service provider will only send me an automated response should I bother to complain.  I need to speak to a real person.  So I call their client call centre number.

An automated voice asks me to identify the relevant mobile number, which I do.  I don’t know why, because you invariably get asked for the number to which your query relates once you (eventually) reach someone to speak to.

Ok, once past that point, THE VOICE gives me various options.  I want to thump the offender’s head against the wall.  There is, however, no such option.

The options are, more or less:

  1. Enquire your free minutes
  2. Temporarily suspend your service or obtain the PUK number
  3. Enquire when you may upgrade
  4. Add or remove service
  5. Blackberry, 3G or Data Service
  6. By now I stopped listening, but I think the last one related to recharging.

Mmmm….. so which one of the above comes remotely close to removing the R6 per day subscription?  No, I don’t know either, so let’s try the one about removing services.  So I hit button 4.

THE VOICE tells me sorry, can’t do that; you first need to have a 5 digit PIN.  I want to ask why, because I already have a 4 digit PIN with them.  Admittedly, I can’t remember the 4 digit one, but still.  But THE VOICE takes no talking back.  So I type in a new 5-digit PIN.

No, sayeth THE VOICE, that number is not good.  She does not say why.  Please try again, she says.  I do so.  I type in the same number.  THE VOICE congratulates and welcomes me to the innermost circle, and that I now have 48 hours of access to the amenities on offer, or words to that effect.

Now THE VOICE again runs the above options past me.  I don’t know why, I mos already chose one.  Ok, so let’s try number 4 again.  At last I’m now part of the inner circle, NOW I’m going to have somebody to speak to.

No.

THE VOICE then tells me I must first register yet something else.  By now I realize I’m not going to get along with THE VOICE.  I drop the call and walk down to the closest shop for assistance.  I need to speak to a human being.  …