A note of concern when buying cellphones

Errol Coetzee refused to accept that Vodacom gave him a new phone, and not a refurbished one, until they offered him a sweetener.

“I am at my wits’ end trying to resolve my problem with Vodacom. I upgraded to a Samsung Note 9 but two days later it malfunctioned. The Vodacom store got it going but a short while later it malfunctioned again and they told me that it had to be sent for repairs. I insisted that within seven days of purchase, it is considered an OBF. (Out of Box Fault) so I wanted a new one,” the Southfield man said.

After I contacted Vodacom, Lindi Dlamini said they would resolve the issue.

A week went by and Mr Coetzee hadn’t heard anything more from Ms Dlamini nor had Vodacom sent me the promised response.

So back to Vodacom who told me they sent a new phone to Mr Coetzee who insisted that it was a refurbished phone.

Mr Coetzee confirmed that he received another phone. But when it arrived there were two documents with two different IMEI numbers, one was for the new device. The other IMEI number was for his old phone, which was apparently a fault report. He also refused to accept Ms Dlamini’s assurances that it was a new device.

“I repeated my opinion that a new device would not have a ‘fault report’. She then said that I was not supposed to have received that report. I told her that she was trying to hide the fact that the ‘new’ phone was repaired. At the end of our discussion, I insisted that they collect this device, as I am not opening it, and they must send me a new phone with documentation to substantiate its origin,” Mr Coetzee said.

Vodacom apologised for “not keeping you in the loop”.

“But perhaps you can advise us, how we can help Mr Coetzee,” said spokesperson Vinnie Santu.

“My colleagues have been trying to help him but he is just not happy. We sent him a brand-new Samsung Note 9 but he wants an email or confirmation from ‘overseas’ that this device is not a refurbished one.

“We have asked him if we can get a representative from Samsung to confirm that the device is sealed and brand-new. He doesn’t want that. He hasn’t opened the device. We sent him both documents – with IMEI numbers for his old and new device, he doesn’t believe us and doesn’t even want to go into a store to confirm what we are saying. I want to put it on record that it is indeed a new device.

“Can you help us, please?”

It’s not for me to tell companies how to run their business.

I also told Mr Coetzee that if he didn’t want to accept Vodacom’s word that it was a new phone, there was not much I could do.

However,whenVodacom offered him a free subscription for two months he accepted the offer, and he is now apparently happy with his new device.

Many readers ask for help and I make it clear to them that if the story is published their names will be in the paper.

A Greenhaven resident who is under debt review said: “I desperately require assistance with MTN as I have exhausted all contacts.”

I said I would contact MTN and that her name would be in the paper if the story was published.

Clara (not her real name) told MTN’s legal accounts administrator that she has been waiting for almost a month for the finance department “to locate and note on my bill the missing payments made to MTN via the NPDA (National Payment Distribution Agency)”.

“I have been waiting for a final settlement balance, since September 2018. Zero Debt requested the original paid up letter in July 2018. The delayed response has caused a ripple in other areas of my life and while I understand the situation is partially due to my lapse in payment in 2015, it does not excuse how MTN has handled my account up to now and their lack of co-operation in settling the bill,” said Clara.

She wanted the calculations done according to the original statement which showed an amount of R15 942.18, “less payments of R2 122.08” although the original dated December 8 2015 has a balance of R16 492).

MTN said Clara had been paying her bill using an old reference number which had been deactivated in 2016 after she had failed to pay some of her monthly premiums.

“It has been resolved amicably”.

When I told Clara what MTN said, she asked me to retract the complaint as it had been resolved. When I pointed out to her that it was my decision, she got pedantic about the language, and said I had used the word if and not when.

She also doubted that I had contacted MTN when I said I would do so.

If it wasn’t for me Clara would still be waiting for answers, and she would still be “feeling ripples in her life” because of debt.