Gareth Glassman …. you rock, paper, scissors

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I am not one of those people who get excited when it is time to renew their cell phone package.

I groan internally, then fret for weeks, and pretty much leave it until it either goes away or I just do not care anymore.

I like my electronics to work.

I know it sounds like a lot to ask.

My cell phone, my laptop and my other stuff work. Just needs to work.

I get happy when things just work.  I am not shooting for a dream here.  I am just happy when I put things on and they function like they are supposed to.

Or like they did the last time they were on.

The last time I upgraded – Vodacom is my service provider – was a less than ideal experience.

I called their call centre, and got a wonderful bloke who told me that this simple SIM swap was really simple.  He calmed me down and assured me that this would be done in minutes and I would be up and running in no time.

With my new shiny iphone 5S.

My general sense of pessimism was soothed in thinking that this might actually work.  He was so bloody confident and soothing.

I believed it was as simple as he said it was going to be.

I explained I had the new iphone 5S and it had been sitting in my cupboard unopened for two months and I was too shit scared to do the SIM card swap from the iphone 4 (add a letter of the alphabet) because I did not want to lose data, or contacts or the warmth of knowing I could just switch it on and it would work. And make that ring-ring sound when someone called me.

My entire life runs through my cell phone – personal and work life.  I stressed that.  I really stressed that part.

The soothing voice on the phone told me that it would be okay.  It was easy.  He would hold my hand – metaphorically – the entire way.  It would be over before I knew it — and my life would go on uninterrupted.

He assured me.  I fell for his voice.  His confidence.

I was so lulled.

Then somewhere the wheels fell off – like totally.  I wrote this blog post at a time when I was about ready to go postal at VODACOM ….. it was really really not a good experience.

The cascading shit storm that erupted in my life because of no access to my phone, records, history and basically anything had me wondering if I should call my psychiatrist for an emergency meet and great, and possibly a chat about which clinic would take me on short notice.

Or whether insanity could be a plea for beating the shit out of a few dozen people with a SIM card.

It started when I realised that the SIM card supplied for the new phone was not the right size.

The SIM swap which was happening was actually just going to lead to nothing — because the wrong SIM card had been supplied with the new phone.

Again all VODACOM’s fault at this point – the pack had been supplied by them.

Vodacom dealt with my problem like only a large conglomerate could.

No one seemed to give a shit that I was in the beginning stages of a full scale fucking mental break down.

I got shuffled/transferred to the “next person” and not one person stopped to hear me, or try to take responsibility for this problem.

I called the service center.  Numerous times.  At this point I was jotting down names, departments, times and the reaction.

It was like being stuck in Dante’s rings of hell.

I went along to the nearest/any Vodacom store I could find.  Thinking if I could just speak to human being, and make eye contact we could resolve this issue.

They sort of nodded and made the right coo’ing sounds but the fact that every hour I was losing income, and I was watching my phone not work (I think at this point we were in stage 4 of the SIM swap challenge) – the VODACOM store blamed VODACOM and told me to speak to them.

I explained I was in a VODACOM store. So you know …. fucking help me!!

They explained that though the signage said VODACOM, their shirts were doing, and the embroidery on their shirts said VODACOM, they were in actual fact not VODACOM.

You can see how this would make a sane person stand there and go “WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?”

VODACOM store said I should call VODACOM …. the real one, not the store one, because they were not VODACOM ….I was of course very appreciative of that advise, as I had not even thought to call VODACOM ….. silly me.

I can’t recall at which point of FUCK (or how many times I had said FUCK) it was resolved.

I did my utmost to be polite with each service person that I dealt with.

I tried to have empathy that the problem was not the result of the person on the other end of the line.

I however did want them to solve it for me. What being VODACOM and whose fault it was.

That was kind of where I realised I was in the no man’s land of no-one-really-gives-a-fuck-of-service-providers.

Vodacom did not exactly impress me, the  problem was eventually resolved.  I think when I was transferred to “HR and Events Planning” {not joking} I knew I had eventually been transferred to everyone possible.

The real issue of moving my data and restoring all the history which the VODACOM-SIM-CARD-SWAP-DEBACLE-OF-2014 managed to create left me gasping for air and crying in the kitchen.

A wonderful man at the iphone store in Canal Walk assisted me to restore my history, and my contacts and and and …….. I realise that it was not Vodacom’s responsibility to do that BUT they had fucked up monumentally, and there was no gesture from them what so ever to do anything right.

A few days later I got a call from a VODACOM call centre and the lovely lady apologised and coo’ed.  She promised me it would never happen again, and said my data bundle would be increased at no charge, or I would be sent a virgin on a unicorn.  Or both.

I forget the details.  I was heady at this stage as my phone was working.

Neither happened (data or virgin on a unicorn).  I had my phone and my history and it was working.

Right at that point I was not willing to fuck with karma anymore.

Fast forward 2 years and I am again at the “renew” my contract stage.

To say I am skeptical does not even hint at it. I think I started experiencing PTSD symptoms at the thought of a SIM swap or contract upgrade.

I have one number that runs my life, business, personal life and fox tattoo fetish.

I need to keep that number and then have a second contract as a personal number.

Weighing up how to do that, and whether to use an existing device and how that would work was doing my brain in.

Remember now I am naturally very suspicious of smooth voiced call centre operators from VODACOM/HADES and calling them is not an option on the table — unless this time I just ask to be transferred straight to HR and Events Planning, and work backwards from there.

I tried to do my own research.

When you are trying to sift through the offers and the variances, eventually you get a head-ache, and choose to rather go and drink.

To cut a long story short (yes I realise that ship has already sailed) I just did nothing.

At least then my phone still worked and I did not lose 3 – 5 days of my life in what I would consider hell.

My feelings towards VODACOM are not dissimilar to how I feel about a urinary tract infection.

Best avoided.

Today I popped in to Cellucity at Canal Walk – to be honest my expectations were low.

Like snake shit low.

I expected to be overwhelmed, confused and walk away with absolutely no real idea of what to do.

Then I met Gareth Glassman.

When I say the name, I think I hear angel’s sing.

I explained my existing phone number and we discussed the present contract, it’s offering and where I fell short (had to pay in about two times more than my initial contract as I was using more data and so on) each month and what he suggested I do moving forward.

Initially I was getting a bit overwhelmed, as the options were endless.

I explained that I wanted a second contract – well not necessarily wanted a second contract – but I needed a second number that could be my private number.

Here is where Gareth Glassman (metaphorically) went into the back and returned in his skin tight outfit with his underpants on the outside, a mask and a cape.  Totally MARVEL MAN stuff.

He sat with me and we went through half a dozen options – he did it in a gentle careful manner.  When ever I got that “deer in a headlights” look about me, then he slowed it down.

He did not sigh once when I asked him to explain it again and slower.

We eventually hashed out a plan.  A brilliant plan.  For my existing contract and my new contract.

I was in that stage of amazement — I could not believe that someone had listened to me — actually listened and gave me what I needed.

I can’t really explain what I am feeling right now ….. is this the elation of great customer service??  It might explain why I am so giddy and overwhelmed.

I am unfamiliar with this animal.  I am not sure what to do with these feelings.

It’s all so new to me. {swoons}

Actual customer service ….. I know it does sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale where the princess loses her shoe and goes home in an Uber pumpkin …. but people I swear to you, today I saw it.  In the flesh.

I did not feel like I was having a sale’s pitch thrown at me.

I felt that Gareth was doing what many people don’t.  He was listening to his “potential” client and giving her options, until she was happy and felt content.

I have never been so happy with anything to do with my cell phone contract — EVER.

I have no idea whether this was just a run-of-the-mill client service’s experience for Gareth, or whether he felt any of the elation and amazement that I felt walking out of that store today.

I high-fived him when I left.  I would have chest bumped him if the desk was not so wide.

I walked around for the balance of the day feeling like a mountain was lifted from my shoulders.

Gareth Glassman at Cellucity Canal Walk – that man deserves ….. I don’t know.

What do you give a guy who has supplied outstanding service?  Who does what he is employed to do, and then freaking peaks at it??

I realise he is not a VODACOM guy, but maybe VODACOM can give him a call and he can pop over and train some of there client services people.

Or at the very least be taken out for a large lunch, given a back and neck massage and a week at AFRIBURN.

You have restored my faith that I might actually have a good contract upgrade experience.

Gareth Glassman — you rock. Paper. Scissors.

Today is my rant — VODACOM YOU SUCK in large chunks …..

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I have been with Vodacom for the entire existence of my time of owning a cell phone.

I have always had one number – I have always been a client of VODACOM.

Always.

I hate upgrading.  I hate anything that puts me in a position where I feel I will lose information or the usability of my phone.

I do everything through my phone.

I run my business.  I run my life.  Everyone I have ever spoken to is a contact on my phone.

I am really attached to a sense of order, control over my information and that it all remains accessible.  This is how I function.

I struggle to function — so it is really important that I have lists, I have order and I have control.

I upgraded a few months ago — because I was meant to upgrade in April, and just ignored it.

Vodacom sent me several emails and and and ….. then I upgraded. I had a iphone 4S and I upgraded to an iphone 5S.

It came with a new SIM card and that made me nervous.  It would be a SIM swap, and I was fearful of losing any information and putting my life into chaos.  {I am not being overly melodramatic – I know how I function, and I function well as long as I keep a firm eye on where things are and that things run a certain way.}

I left the phone in my cupboard unopened for about three months.

Today I thought I need to stop being a TJOP and get the phone out and just do the SIM swap.  I called VODACOM and spoke to a call operator called Lucky at 12h37.

He was pleasant, efficient and reassured me that it was quite easy.  I had all the numbers and in a few moments he had arranged the SIM swap.  He made it clear I should not put the new SIM into the new phone until I had notification that the SIM on the original was cancelled.  And I would see this as it would who NO SERVICE or similar.

Cool!  Yay I thought. Look at me all brave and shit.

About an hour later it had occurred to me I have never actually put a SIM into an iphone.  Kennith had always sorted this out for me. that I should figure how to get the SIM in the phone in the interim.

I worked it out, but the SIM did not fit.  Long story short, VODAOM have supplied the incorrect sized SIM for the iphone 5S.

To clarify. Vodacom had contacted me for the upgrade.  They had sent the phone and the SIM. I had not gone to a retailer, or picked it off the shelf.  VODACOM had kindly done all of this for me.

I thought, this is a bit irritating, but these things happen – I will pop down to VODACOM at Canal Walk and sort this out before my phone and my existing number stopped working.

Just to recap — I run my business, my only source of income off my phone, so it working is sort of really important to me.

I pop along to a VODACOM store.  My sense/assumption is if I explain my little issue, someone will go “hells bells, that is terrible, we are very sorry, no worries, let’s sort that out for you in a jiffy – here is the right SIM card …. again we are sorry, but hey have a good day.”

That is sort of what I was hoping for.

It seems VODACOM stores are not actually VODACOM. They appear to be stores owned by people who are not VODACOM …. it took me a bit to get my head around as it looked like VODACOM.

The short of it was they could not sort out my problem — because the store emblazoned with VODACOM is not actually VODACOM.

At this point I was starting to sweat, my heart rate was increasing and I felt a definite panic attack coming on.

The guy at the sort of VODACOM store,which is not actually VODACOM, was really helpful.  He explained he could sell me a SIM card, and he would have to send an email to VODACOM who in turn would then do the SIM swap.  (Second one)

He could not guarantee whether that would be in 4 hours of 48 hours because he was not VODACOM.  And it was Friday afternoon.

I had no issue paying for a new card — I did sort of start to hyperventilate that I might be without my phone for 48 hours, because remember I had already done  SIM swap, and I had limited time on the SIM I presently had.

I figured no problem.  I will phone really efficient Lucky, explain my predicament and he would make this problem go away.

Then we laughed and laughed.  And laughed.  I also cried a little.  Or that could have just been me.

I called VODACOM – same number I had called earlier, Customer Service I believe (111 …. I think).

The person I spoke to could not transfer me within the department to another operator, but explained that I should actually call Sales on 082 1950 because THEY were the people who would sort it out.

I called Sales.  Explained my entire story – politely.  Oh no Sales said they could not help me – I needed to call After Sales – I could call them on 082 1945.

I explained — with a tetchy tone to my voice that I had already been bounced — the guy just spoke louder to make it clear that he could not assist me and if I called After Sales they would sort it out.

After Sales told me to call Retention.  Denzil in Retention explained that no, he could not help, I was at the wrong place I would need to call Upgrades.

At this point I was starting to lose my mind.  I had now been on the phone for an hour or two  — and not one person had apologised or taken responsibility or tried to assist.

This continued to the 8th department — I started to lose consciousness at this point.

Lerato was the person I was chatting to — she told me that I should call After Sales or Customer Service or GO FK yourself or Actually we do not give a Damn, but call them Department, and wanted to give me the number.

I had been patient, I had been polite I had wished them all a good day.

This woman was the final point of where I lost my mind. I said NO I actually was not going to call ANOTHER FERKING DEPARTMENT, I wanted to talk to her Team Leader.

She said that her team leader could not assist me — I figured, sure, probably not but surely a Team Leader, who may lead a team is going to have slightly more investment in not having a customer lose her sh*t and come through and just beat them all to death with a lamp shade.

Maybe.

Lerato explained to me that I needed to call …… another department and speak to that Department’s Team Leader.  She actually said that.

I thought okay. I am done. “Lerato, I want to speak to your Team Leader, call your Team Leader. I demand you put me in direct contact with your Team Leader.  No I insist that you escalate this problem to your Team Leader!”

I was pretty vexed at this point.

There might have been saliva collecting on my chin, and I had stopped blinking —- I was trying to conserve energy, because I felt a full sh*t fit coming on.

She humphed, put her head set on the desk and walked off.

How do I know this?  Because I heard the clunk. I could hear her foot falls as she walked off and there I sat.  And sat and sat.

I am not sure if Lerato just thought, fK it I am not paid enough for this crap, and went out for a donut and a beer.

I have no idea, as I continued to sit there and eventually ——— I kid you not, my call ended up at one of those automated ‘On a scale of 0 – 10, with 0 being hell no, and 10 being yes, definitely — would you refer our service to a friend….” or something of that nature.

Lose my sh&t I did.  Right there.

I had been on the phone for more than an hour hedging close to two.  Every department had purely wanted me to call another department.  Which I had done. I had obeyed the instructions.

Even though they made absolutely no sense to me what so ever.

The only departments I had NOT spoken to was HR, Events and Organising and possibly Call us if your Testicles are sore, because we have a cream for that Department at VODACOM.

Eventually I decided to acknowledge that VODACOM had actually just beaten the will to live out of me.

Me with my can-do attitude.  Me with my professional telephone voice.  VODACOM had just beaten me down and shown they were the big boys and a client really was not going to slow them down.

Also they had a really nice shiny logo and spend a great deal of money on advertising — maybe some can be diverted to customer service.

Customer service where you deal with one person and THAT person takes full responsibility for the call and the problem.  I know it is an off the wall idea — but hey let me just put it out there for you.

VODACOM store which is not actually VODACOM-guy was really helpful.  I bought a SIM card, he said he would send an email to SIM swap and and and …..

Now bearing in mind I have now lost three hours of my day — I then had to do the usual rushing and I am stressed, anxious and well truly *****  OFF at this point.

Then the SIM SWAPPING STARTED.

Oh mother.

The time I would have spent making sure I had moved all my data to a safe spot, had all my passwords and user ID’s sorted and well you know the stuff you need to do a move from one phone to another, did not get done, as I WAS BEING BOUNCED FROM ONE INEPT DEPARTMENT TO ANOTHER.

By the time I got home — the first SIM swap had been made. I sat and moved the new SIM in, and then I had to run around a bit because I was late for kids.  I was frayed and stressed and looked like I had taken a few beatings by that point.

I kept forgetting my name.  And to breath.

Then the next  SIM swap happened.

I now had to move to the iphone 5S — because that had just happened.

I had done none of the preparation.  I am a super organised person. I keep all my stuff in organised lists, and in diaries.

Unfortunately as my entire day had taken a turn for the frustrating, I had not prepared any of my stuff to be able to move information from one phone to another.

I was so buoyed by Lucky and his confidence that I did not run around and go bezerk, because he had smiled and assured me this would be fine.

By this evening I have had to start my new iphone with no ability to move the data or contacts or history from my previous iphone.

My fault – I did not have my stuff organised, and at this stage I can barely think — I cannot NOT have access to my number for any longer whilst I go and find the information.

Right now I am sitting with an empty iphone 5S – my contact lists, my history, my information that I have accumulated over the years is no longer accessible to me.

Keeping all my user names and passwords in one place and accessible was my responsibility.

Screwing me over as a client and single-handedly managing to destroy my day was yours VODACOM.

You assisted in making me so stressed that at a point in this evening I was SCREAMING AT MY CHILDREN because I just needed a few moments to think.  My phone not working correctly is not just because I think phones are cool — it is sort of vital to my income.

You know the income that I use to pay VODACOM amongst other things.

You guys are totally tossers — you have destroyed my day, probably impacted on my weekend, and in end this will take me several weeks of sorting out to get my new phone sorted like my old phone.

I am so angry —- I am so ANGRY WITH VODACOM that I am spewing.

Everything that I was scared of with a SIM swap happened and then more — BECAUSE your inability to assist a client who was desperate, and tried to call your company fell on deaf ears.

Your staff are POORLY trained —- you have absolutely no interest in the knock on effects of today on to me, on to my business.

Your total disregard for me as a client has impacted on me today in a profound level.  When did I as a client get this irrelevant to you?  What did I need to do today differently to get someone, anyone to actually assist me to avert the disaster.

For VODACOM to listen to me — talking. On a phone.  Asking for assistance.  When did I get this invisible to you?

 

VODACOM I HATE YOU RIGHT NOW.

 

I would change service providers in a heart beat if I did not have to go through a SIM swap and what ever else may sit before me, because I sure as hell know that as a service provider I can pretty much expect you to give me the middle finger as you did all day today.

 

Well done VODACOM, well done.

I do hope at your next conference where you pat your staff on the back for being so brilliant, so damn good — you possibly give some thought to that fact that: you do NOT train your staff well, do not oversee your call center sufficiently, and do not have built in facilities to escalate a problem, when the same client has called consistently with no results.

My number should have been RED FLAGGED by the third time I called in and escalated to someone who could assist me.

Logic tells me if a client has called you in a space of 24 hours, then something needs to be looked at.  Maybe you need to call the customer then to see if you can assist.  Again, I am looking at this as a client.

 

Before starting each conversation I stated my number and name — I must assume that my records appear on the screen in front of the customer services person?

 

{yes I know I am swearing like a drunk pirate, but I am so angry, I am so frustrated, and I am stressed …. maybe tomorrow I will regret this post.  Then I will look at my data and my chat history and my client contacts and all the other stuff that I will need to sort out …. and then I will think again how much I really really hate VODACOM}

 

For a moment I was rethinking whether saying you SUCK is possibly a bit of a rash thing to say, and I should calm down.

Glanced at my phone, it has now reads NO SERVICE —- which means that something is either wrong with the new SIM ….. and I will need to call your very efficient CUSTOMER SERVICE DEPARTMENT AGAIN – or I will actually just need to go and get a lampshade and walk into one of your call centres and make it very clear that you guys do in fact SUCK.

But I am one client, and what do I matter when you have a shiny logo and all your ads tell us how fantastic you are?

No points for guessing how that is going to go.