Thursday, April 18, 2024

MTN: Too Big To Care

It's always a shame when a company gets so big and disconnected from its customers that it starts to annoy them. Badly. Discovery Medical Scheme is one example; MTN, my cell phone "service" provider, is another. It started in August or September last year when the latter screwed up their database and started sending my invoices and statements to a two-year-old email address. They also changed the primary contact number. Not that it would make any difference because they send spam to all their numbers, and don't contact their customers on the primary contact number for anything important anyway.
Then I started getting marketing calls from their call centres. Most of them were blocked by the TrueCaller app, but three got through anyway:
  • 031 493 6408 January 10
  • 082 203 2132 January 17
  • 021 065 2510 March 1
Notice how none of them are MTN numbers, but they all claim to be official MTN call centres. I told the first two that I would be going to the MTN store in Cresta. I informed the third one that she was too late because I was already speaking to them on my new phone. So much for up-to-date IT systems. It's what you expect from a dinosaur company run by managers out of their depth.
The end of January is not a good time to renew a contract. They are about to announce their new phone models, and so stocks of the existing models are low, if not empty. The store can tell you that new models are coming in, but not the cost of the new devices yet. So the Samsung A24 was not in stock, but they couldn't tell me how much the A25 would cost. Eventually, in February the A25 was available at a suitable price, but not in black. Only light blue. After waiting for 3 weeks for a phone, I decided to ignore the colour and get a black phone protector case. Two days later, the black phone arrived. Too late! So it is best to wait until March or April to renew a contract, or move to another "service" provider.
Twitter's @MTNza "help" desk was singularly unhelpful in "assisting" with getting the new phone. They wanted me to go back to the store and cancel the contract (never mind the cost) and then "pre-order" the black A25 online. They couldn't tell me when it would arrive either. Nice own goal and undermining the hard-working staff at the store.
The same staff complain that they are having trouble obtaining DebiCheck mandates for debit order contracts. They obtained mine on 26th January, but failed to run the debit order on 31st January. The frustrated staff changed my account to cash payment instead of debit order, in order to try to finalize the contract. The staff at the store can't fix accounts problems, you have to call 135. Another own goal.
Calling 135 is like entering the lottery. You have very little chance of winning. Instead, you are likely to get someone who has no idea what the problem is, or how to fix it. Today I struck it lucky and was finally able to get them to use the correct email address for my invoices. It has taken several visits to the MTN store, and several complaints on Twitter, and several calls, all to no avail. Today the operator went to a different section of the screen and fixed it. Hopefully. We will see next month.
Their accounting system is also more weird than most accounting systems. When you are on a debit order, the balance amount never matches the amount deducted. It's half the balance.
When you change over to being a "cash" payer, then the balance amount suddenly becomes the amount you need to pay.
Naturally, no one bothers to explain this. If you pay the wrong amount, they just disconnect you from the network. No warning, no SMS notice, nothing. They don't even have the payment information on the statement, only on the invoice. So if you only read the monthly statement, you're in for a nasty shock.
Why am I still on cash payment after being on a debit order before? Because they told me that the only possible date for the debit order was the 21st of the month. Imagine that! No option of "last business day of the month" or 1st of the month. Nooo, that would be inconvenient for the accounts department to figure out a pro rata amount, even though they do that anyway. Nooo, they want the debit date to be the same as the date they finalized the contract, despite all their delays in doing exactly that. So I will pay them when it suits me. Because they don't care anyway.

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