Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Re: Twitter to Pieter Uys about 3G problem

Hi Louisa...

Thanks very much for your call yesterday. I'm pleased that someone in Pieter's office took this matter seriously enough to put a human face on it.

I'm afraid your call came too late for me. This issue should have been dealt with on the day it happened, or the next day. Instead, it took from Friday to Tuesday for me to get absolutely no joy, and no resolution. Your call was the ONLY communication I've had where resolution was possible.

There's something drastically wrong with your problem-escalation systems and procedures if your company will allow a client to get this heated about something so simple to fix.

The matter is simple:

1. I put a limit in place to protect myself from nasty surprises like a R4k bill out of nowhere.

2. I also trusted your systems to deliver the promised SMSses telling me when my bundle was depleted. You are in the business of delivering information. You've been doing it for more than a decade. GET IT RIGHT.

3. I trusted your people to have the common decency of communicating with me when something went wrong. They did not. They simply froze my account, OVER THE WEEKEND, with absolutely NO WAY for me to get my account unfrozen. Shocking. Disgusting. Pathetic. How would YOU like to have YOUR internet arbitrarily cut off, with a R4k bill thrown in for good measure, and a labyrinthine call centre system that refuses to escalate issues?

4. I made more than 14 telephone calls to get this issue sorted. I spent more than R200 waiting on hold and being told by idiot-like people that they would NOT escalate my call. I wasted more than five hours of MY time trying to sort out YOUR problem. All the while being blamed for it, and being told that I had to pay for your mistake. Yuk. Shame on your guys.


I've now gotten my MTN connection sorted out. And I'm back in the land of the connected.

Please cancel any and all remaining Vodacom accounts forthwith. As we discussed on the phone last night, I will not be giving you a month's notice. I want it cancelled right now. This month-end bill must be the last debit order from you guys, please.


I apologise for the strident tone and manner of this email. I recognise that you've been thrust into the tail-end of a nasty situation, and that you're really doing your best to help me. But I've really had enough. And I simply want to be clear that I will have nothing further to do with Vodacom.


1. Please let me know that my account is being deactivated with immediate effect, and that I won't be paying any more bills other than this final one.

2. Please let me know what you intend to do with the disputed amount.

3. Please let me know what's going to be done to prevent this from happening with other clients in the future.

Thanks, Louisa.

On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 2:56 PM, Louisa Van Beek <> wrote:



You have send Pieter a twitter about your 3G problem.  Can you please give me more info i.e. what the problem is, where do you experience this problem, contact detail that I can give the technicians to make an appointment to come and see you.


I have also left you a voice message, you are welcome to call me at your convenience.




Louisa van Beek

CEO's Office

Vodacom Group Limited

082 Vodacom Bouldevard, Vodavalley, Midrand, 1685

Private Bag x9904, Sandton, 2146


"This e-mail is sent on the Terms and Conditions that can be accessed by Clicking on this link "

Visual Facilitator, Illustrator, Writer, Director

Mobile: +27 74 104 6386
Fax: 086 512 2580 (South African calls only)


Professional member of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa:
I use an Asus R1E tablet pc, sponsored by Rectron South Africa

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vodacom 3G Losing Another Customer: Complaint Currently Being Dealt With on GetClosure!

This is the text of my complaint currently lodged with

<em>My Extremely Truncated Complaint Against Vodacom</em>

1. My 3G card was locked on Friday 20 Nov without my being informed.

2. When I spoke to a consultant on Friday evening, he told me that my
bill had spiked to just under R4k, and that accounts had frozen it.

3. Approx two years ago, I had Vodacom put a voluntary limit on my
acc, so that it could not spike by more than R500.

4. Consultant informed me that no such limit was in place. He
speculated that an error may have occurred when I upgraded from the
1gig bundle to the 2gig bundle.

5. I've since spoken to, and screamed and shouted at, approx 14
staffers, who refuse to escalate this to decision-making level.

6. My 3G remains blocked. And I refuse to pay for Vodacom's error.

<em>My Proposed Solution</em>

1. I want my 3G card immediately unlocked and operational.

2. I will happily pay my bill up to my R500 limit.

3. I will happily purchase a top-up bundle to see me through this month.

4. Vodacom must absorb the balance of the cost of the spike, and fix
their internal systems to prevent this from happening.

5. I want an apology from the person who cut my account off without
notifying me.

6. I want a written apology from Pieter Uys, Vodacom CEO, explaining
why his staff refuse to escalate issues, and what he will be
instituting to make complaints easier to escalate.

7. I will most likely terminate all dealings with Vodacom as a result
of this debacle.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ARIA -- a short film directed by Guto Bussab, written by Roy Blumenthal

Guto Bussab directed this film, opting to shoot on real 16mm film. I co-produced with him and Rudi Pieterse. And I wrote the script.

We shot the film over two-and-a-half days, using three locations in Joburg. Norman Coombes was an absolute trooper. At this point in his life, he had almost no sight left. He was as good as blind. And he was old. One of the shoot days had us doing an intense and late afternoon/night shoot in an antique shop. At the end of the shoot, Stafford, our Director of Photography, called, 'Check the gate.' This is a ritual in film. The gate is the bit in front of the lens where the film rushes through. If it's clear, it means all's well. If there's a little piece of film stuck in it, it means trouble.

As it happened, the gate wasn't clear. We had filmed for an entire 6-hour period, with NO film rushing past the lens. We had to reshoot the scene in ten minutes, after calling Norman and Frantz back from their car.

This film was the last one Norman Coombes made before he died. He was into his late 80s when we shot it, and he was long dead by the time our unbearably complex edit was over.

This film was a lesson in 'What CAN go wrong WILL'.

The chief catastrophe, from which we almost couldn't recover, was that a good third of our shot footage was processed by the film lab at the wrong ASA rating. And so it ended up not just vaguely unusable but completely unusable. Viewing rushes is a dangerous and scary thing. When you view the rushes and you cannot see anything but darkness and golf-ball-sized clods of misshapen light, that fear becomes bile-like.

Which meant that the film had to be pieced together by Damon Berry and Digby Young. They literally took my script, worked out what we intended with the movie, and then created an entirely new story out of the footage available to them.

They fought another monumental battle in that long edit. As it happens, Guto's 16mm camera had a problem that nobody knew about. The crystal in the camera which keeps audio and picture synchronised was broken. So the film wandered between 23 and 26 frames per second. Which meant that there was NO lip synch. None whatsoever.

So when Digby and Damon delivered us a film, it took me and Philip Haupt about a week in the audio studio getting a salvageable lip synch out of the cut.

Only two things went really well. One was the music by Dan Selsick. He composed the aria specifically for the film. And the other was the post-production funding I secured from the NFVF, South Africa's National Film and Video Foundation.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

@docpop's 'Pictureless Comic Contest': Hindsight -- 2009-11-04 -- Joost and Amor

@Scottstead, a Twitter buddy of mine, and fellow visual thinker, alerted me to an interesting challenge...

@DocPop threw the gauntlet down, asking artists, illustrators, cartoonists, humans, to create a 4 to 40 panel comic strip with NO PICTURES.

Of course, the only medium in which this can be successfully carried out would be radio. Cos all other media use visuals. And visuals are pictures. Even a written or typed word is a picture.

But what the heck? Maybe he just meant, 'Traditional pictures'?

My answer to the challenge deals with the scandalous numbskullery of an ex-Springbok Rugby Playing Hero, Joost vd Westhuizen.

Some time ago, the tabloids broke a story in which Joost was seen in a home video snorting cocaine off an extra-marital ladyfriend's stomach. He was also giving her some of his special Springbok Rugby Love. (You know the type I mean... tonsil massage in the locker room.) All while wearing underpants riddled with holes.

He denied that it was him in the tape. His spiritual leader, Pastor Ray McCauley, of the money-making Rhema Church, apparently denied it was Joost. (I've just searched the web for the articles I recall coming out at the time, and I'm struggling to find anything about McCauley's role that isn't hearsay.)

Nevertheless... Everybody denied it was Joost.

And his wife Amor stood by his side.

But now he's gone and let the cat out of the bag. It WAS him. He admits it in his new book. And at the same time, he trash-talks Amor in the most ungentlemanly ways possible. (In fact, I hope his Springbok Rugby Pals round on him in a dark alley and give him some scrummaging lessons as payment for the ugly stuff he's revealed about his former love.)

The hidden layers in this cartoon make it a bit convoluted for anyone who isn't fully up to speed with the twists and turns of the saga. But it's clear enough what's happening in the surface story regardless.

I thought a bit of history would be in order.

I made this pic in ArtRage 2.5 on my Rectron-sponsored Asus R1E tablet pc. I wore a pair of my own hole-ridden underpants on my head for inspiration.

This pic is released under a Creative Commons 'Attribution, Share-Alike' license. This means you are free to use it as you see fit, without asking for my permission. AS LONG AS... you attribute it to me, and you release it under a similar license. I would also appreciate a note letting me know you're using it. My email address is