Thursday, November 24, 2011

How does Vodacom expect to stay in business ?

Vodacom fail 185x138

I have had a good historical reason to stay with Vodacom. I've always liked their services, and frankly, they've been as rubbish as their competition. But recently, the number and scale of outages, and complete and utter ineptitude at managing their network has resulted in me being rather disappointed with them. If it wasn't for the crazy early cancellation fees, I would have ported over to someone else at least 6 months ago.


But I digress; lets focus on the last 3 weeks of ineptitude. I returned from an overseas trip with an iPhone 4S. I wanted to enable Visual Voicemail for it, and miracle of miracles, Vodacom has it. For the purposes of clarity, please see this article on their website. I tried to enable it on the 12th of November. Through an endless series of calls, first explaining what the service was, then that they did in fact have it, and that it wasn't activating, it finally started working  - on the 20th, with no explanation or understanding from the myriad operators I was speaking to as to what had changed. No-one knew why it wasn't working, and no-one knew why it started working. Major problem!


Then, I foolishly decided to add Voicemail Plus, which gives me the ability (theoretically) to forward my voicemail to an e-mail address; having both would have been voice messaging nirvana! I activated it (on the 21st), was immediately charged for it and received a summary notification saying my Visual Voicemail service was cancelled. No excuse, no explanation. So, for clarification, it appears you can't have both services together, even though none of the documentation (nor, for that matter, the operators) seem to know that.


And they're an innovative company! I decided the ability to get my voicemail as an e-mail was worth more than not having to sit through tons of tedious IVR messaging, and started looking for a place to enter my e-mail address. Lo and behold, hours on the web site, several calls to the help desk and two call references later, I still don't have my voicemail forwarded.


So, to summarise;

  1. It took 8 days to enable Visual Voicemail, a service that Vodacom advertises it has
  2. You can't have multiple value-added voicemail services at the same time (something I only learned when I activated another one) - there is nothing in the documentation or collateral that states otherwise
  3. I have been four days (and counting) without the ability to forward my voicemail to my e-mail, in spite of having being billed and have, as active, the service on my profile

Screen Shot 2011 11 24 at 5 50 57 PM

How do cellular operators expect to survive when they offer up such shit service ? Can't get the basics right (keep the network up and don't drop my calls), can't get the value added services right, and can't support the end-user when things break ? I'm a "premium" customer to them, paying over R1000 a month. Not for long; not for long.


Update: as of yesterday, December 30th, I now have the service working. No apology, no explanation and (still) no ability to configure it on the web. It has to be configured "on the back end".