Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The MTN Saga Continues

But I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

(In last week's episode, our hero wanted to upgrade to a Galaxy Nexus on his MTN contract, but learned that it likely wouldn't be possible. MTN then firmly ignored him)

On Monday, having had enough of being ignored, I decided to embark on a Twitter mockery campaign under the #MTNGalaxyNexus tag. An example of what I posted:

After a few similar tweets, I seemed to get their attention, and they responded with:

Right. I already knew that. Doesn't give me any new information and, most importantly, makes no effort whatsoever to try and retain me as a customer.

But then something happened that I didn't expect: they responded on Hellopeter too (emphasis mine):

Kindly note that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has been fore casted for Quarter 2 of 2012. However, we can only advise from April 2012, when the handset will be available for sale from MTN.
We would like to thank you for your patronage and continued support as a subscriber and trust that your stay with MTN SP will be Ayoba. 
Um, wut?

I don't know what to do with this information. Mike Fairon and @MTNSouthAfrica both claim that MTN will not be selling the Galaxy Nexus. But MTN's Hellopeter person strongly suggests that it's not a matter of if but when it'll be available.

Is someone mistaken? Has their policy changed? Am I being lied to mislead to stop me from leaving?

In my state of confusion, I entertained an alternative idea: in the interests of avoiding a potentially messy porting situation, what if I just choose a different device? My current phone is as good as any in MTN's current range, but what if I get something other than a phone? What if I get a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1?

So, today, while I happened to be walking past an MTN outlet, I decided to pop in and ask about that. I asked if I would need to increase my subscription fee or anything if I were to get one of these on my upgrade (which is now due tomorrow).

The answer? No.

Apparently it is physically impossible for me to take a tablet device on my current contract. The only possible way the universe will allow it to happen, is if I switch to a data-only contract. Now, I'm not a fan of talking on the phone, but it's still a necessity... a data-only contract is of no use to me. I'm not doing that.

So here I sit, still with little to no clarity on the situation, some contradictory messages from MTN and a bleak outlook for what should be a happy Upgrade Day tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Continuing MTN Fail

I posted a few days ago about a dilemma I'm facing about my choice of cellphone, and of cellular network.

(The story so far: I want to upgrade to a Galaxy Nexus next week, but MTN South Africa has decided not to carry the device.)

Let's just take a look at the Galaxy Nexus quickly.


Thing is, it's not even about the phone anymore. As much as I want to have this device, I'm not an unreasonable guy. I might be open to considering alternatives.

What's seriously pushing me away right now is MTN's complete failure to engage with me about it. In addition to my last blog post (which was enough to catch their attention last time) I've also sent them three tweets. The most recent one:

There's been plenty of activity on the @MTNSouthAfrica Twitter account, so it's not as if it's down or anything... they've just decided to ignore me. I've also tagged them in a post on Google+ for what it's worth.

Now, I may not be a major corporate customer, but as individual customers go, I reckon I'm probably at least in the top 5% over there. I give them a lot (far too much, in fact) of money. I probably single-handedly pay for one of the awesome coffee machines they have over at the Innovation Centre.

They dispense liquid love
(photo courtesy Barbara Curtis)

I haven't tried calling the call centre. Last time I tried that, I was on hold for over an hour before I was cut off, and never actually got to speak to anyone. I don't have that kind of time to waste.

I was at a conference last week where Gio from Virgin Active SA was presenting. He, and others, made some very powerful points about how to keep customers happy: Can't do what I ask? Talk to me, apologise and try to make it up to me.

Continue to ignore me and I'll be gone, and not quietly. And I won't be alone. Someone else will have to pay for your coffee machine.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Here we are again - MTN fails once more

My dedicated reader (I assume there's only one of you who generates all my traffic) will recall an incident approximately 22 months ago when I had a bad experience trying to upgrade my phone to the HTC Desire, thanks to some ineptitude on the part of MTN.

It was frustrating and unnecessary, but it worked out okay in the end. I eventually got the phone I wanted, and began my journey as an Android user. All sins were forgiven and all was right with the world.

There's an even better sequel to the story: in July last year the Desire was stolen (booo!). Insurance replaced it with an even more awesome HTC Sensation, which I'm still rocking hard today (yay!).

Ain't she purdy?
A thought occurred to me a few days ago: odds are I'll be due for upgrade again soon. I should probably start my research.

The first step in my research was to check the date of my upgrade. Luckily MTN's (otherwise useless) MTNDirect site has a little thingy that tells you when your next upgrade is due... and I was told that mine is in two weeks!

I did a happydance.

Why was I so happy? Because this meant I got to upgrade to the Galaxy Nexus! I saw one in real life for the first time at a conference last week. It climbed in through my eyes, and made little purring noises in my heart.

It says "Prrrrrr"
I've always wanted to own a Nexus phone (Google's line of "pure" Android devices), and this is the first time I've been due for a new phone around the time a Nexus was to be released in South Africa. So I did some more Googling to find the exact release date (to see if I'd need to wait a week or two, or whatever) and to my horror, I found this.

“At this stage MTN has not enlisted the Galaxy Nexus, but as per our evaluation process, will continue to review possible enlisting – more so in 2012 with the increasing traction of Android,” said Mike Fairon, general manager for product innovation and development at MTN SA.

MTN will not be carrying the Galaxy Nexus. You know who will be carrying the Galaxy Nexus is South Africa? Every. Other. Network. Seriously. Even Virgin Mobile (do they even count as a network?) will be getting some stock in. MTN, in all their wisdom, will not.


So now I'm faced with a dilemma.

Having a Galaxy Nexus is about ten million times more important to me that having anything to do with MTN. The only reason I'm reluctant to move is that I've had bad experiences with that in the past, and I dread the drama that will ensue if I try to port my number to a proper, modern, forward-thinking network like Cell C.

So, Mike Fairon is clearly an incompetent fool misinformed with no sense of market direction: refusing to stock the flagship Ice Cream Sandwich phone in their range. Also, he is quite probably the devil.

Mike Fairon - probably

Oh, and to add insult to injury, I tweeted a couple of questions to @MTNsouthafrica about it, trying to get some clarity on things. Two days now and no response. Awesome customer service, guys.

So now what? I'm basically screwed. I can "upgrade" next week and get, like, a Galaxy S II... which has almost the same specs as my Sensation. Or I wait until my contract expires in a couple of months, and run the risk of falling foul (once again) of the anticompetitive (and probably illegal) number-porting policies these thugs employ.

I used to like being with MTN. I signed on with them eleven years ago because they were the forward-thinking bunch: they sold me a Nokia 6310 when Vodacom was still pretending HSCSD was lame. (It is lame by today's standards, but in 2001 it was amazeballs)

I guess that happens to large corporates: they lose focus, lose touch with the market and their customers... then they lose market share, and eventually lose their business. Probably best to jump ship now, I guess.