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

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 stop.

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

'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 [EDIT: The Supervisor. REASON: No need to name her]. 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, '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, I need yours,
because I want to cc you into the correspondence I have with your

'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

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 [EDIT: The Supervisor] 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

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.

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