After the ordeal I went through in migrating my cellphone contract from Nashua Mobile to MTNSP two years ago, I was kind-of expecting a easier time of it when my contract came up for renewal.
As usual I was well prepared, and I had selected which device I wanted to upgrade to months in advance: the HTC Desire. I monitored press releases of the local distributor, Leaf, to see when it would become available in South Africa.
I believed that I would only be due for upgrade in June, 24 months after I opened the contract. I wanted to narrow down the date, so last week Wednesday I called in to check my upgrade status. The computer told me that I was already due for upgrade. Which was awesome.
So I set about the process of acquiring my new Desire.
My first stop was the relatively new MTN Direct website. From there, I should have been able to process my renewal and order my new device with only a few clicks. It was not to be so. I found the site to be months out of date, showing none of the newest offers, and the Desire wasn't yet listed on it.
So I decided to call in. I dialled the MTNSP Customer Support line and followed the voice prompts until I found myself on hold, waiting for a human to answer. I held for ten minutes before the call dropped. I tried again a little later: 32 minutes in, the call dropped again. I tried one more time: One hour and eight minutes of holding later, the call dropped.
So I tried another strategy: I relented and decided to go into an actual MTN store to do the upgrade. The client where I'm currently stationed is too far from the main MTN service centre in Sandton for me to get there during office hours, so I found the closest branch and went there: The Boulders Shopping Centre.
Within ten minutes or so, I had filled in all the required paperwork. The staff were friendly and helpful, and they were regretful about the fact that they didn't have the Desire in stock on the premises. The assured me they could order it, and it would most likely arrive on the Friday.
It also didn't arrive on the Monday. And I've just been told that it won't arrive today: it's still sitting at the Fourways Crossing branch, waiting to be shipped. A week after I ordered it, it has yet to make the 20-minute trip from Fourways to Midrand.
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So now I'm left with two choices: I can either wait another day (or another week, or longer), or I can drive to the Fourways branch myself and redo all the paperwork there. Neither of those is acceptable, really. I suppose if I want my new device today (and I really really do), I have little option but to take time out of my work day and make the trip. The very trip I was trying to avoid all along, by using the customer service systems MTN supposedly provides.
I even tried complaining to @MTNSouthAfrica on Twitter, but that seems to have fallen on deaf ears too.
If I hadn't been burned before my the arduous and painful of experience of moving from one service provider to another two years ago, I would seriously be considering making another move right now.
Thanks for nothing, MTN. And don't think I haven't noticed the declining 3G reception where I live. If there isn't a serious turnaround in customer service in the next two years, I'll have to re-evaluate my decision not to move.
UPDATE: As you can see in the comments, I've just had a response from Mr Bagley, who apparently mans the @MTNSouthAfrica Twitter account. Let's hope it works out!
UPDATE 2: I ended up going to the Fourways branch. A fortuitous confluence of unrelated events led to me happening to be driving through the area in the mid afternoon. I signed the papers again and left with my shiny new HTC Desire. While driving home I received a phone call from an MTN representative regarding my tweet. It would have been an interesting experiment to see how long it would have taken to resolve my complaint had I not gone to the other branch. But it's an experiment I think I'm better off for not having run.