Excuse me while I scream. Every now and again, I just need to rant. Today, two of them converge: Vodacom (cell phone provider) and Voyager (South African Airways Frequent Flier programme).

I recently bought a great phone – one I can highly recommend – the Sony Ericsson, P910i. I have a GPRS package (Internet on your cellphone) and have needed to set the phone up for this. I phoned 111, the customer number, and was answered within a few seconds. The guy on the other end was super efficient, and said that he would just send me some SMS’s that I had to save, shut down, restart, and hey presto the phone would be set up. Sounded good to me. Thanked him and said goodbye. Waited. Waited some more.
An hour or so later, I repeated the process. Same great service, same promise. Same result! No SMS. That was yesterday. This morning I phoned again. A woman answered this time, and said she could not find the settings on her system. She said they didn’t have any settings. She could send me settings for the 900i, but they probably wouldn’t work (or even arrive). She said that’s probably what happened yesterday. She didn’t give me any other solutions if these SMSs didn’t arrive. They didn’t arrive. I don’t have GPRS. The frustrating thing is that Barrie, my business partner, has the same phone, and got his GPRS settings from Vodacom by SMS.
So, what’s the deal? Why so many different versions of the truth?
Anyway, I am off to Australia, so I’ll sort it out when I get home. Well, that was my plan.
I have used my Voyager (frequent flier) miles to upgrade my economy class ticket to business class. Fairly standard procedure, but only the outgoing flight has been upgraded, the return one is still waitlisted. So, my travel agent told me to wait until I get to the airport, and then decided whether to generate a single or return upgrade award. As I sat with the Voyager representative, she explained that she would need to charge me R 250 to expedite my claim. I know that doing it online is free. In fact, so did she. Her next statement was that “If you go to the Internet cafe around the corner, you can do this yourself for free”. That Internet cafe though is in a different terminal at the airport, and I would have to trek across with all my luggage, do it, come back, get ticket reissued, then get to my flight. I was already running late, so it seemed the reasonable thing to do to just pay the R 250 fee.
A few things ran through my mind: (1) why no Internet access at the Voyager offices? (the rep said, “we used to have a machine on which clients could do this themselves, but we don’t anymore” – why not?!?); (2) why charge me for something I can do for free? where’s the customer service logic in that?; (3) if Vodacom had sorted out my GPRS, I could have done it on my phone while I sat there – they owe me R 250!!
These are technology issues. When are these companies going to realise that the average person these days actually understands that technology should work, that you can’t blame “the system”, and that we’re getting sick of this type of inefficiencies and stupidity in the system.
Vodacom and Voyager – not good today, I’m afraid.

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