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I just read an article on MyBroadband titled “What a complete and utter mess” and it spurred me to write this blog post which has been rattling around in my head for a while.  The MyBroadband article makes the point that Vodacom’s website is impossible to use.  Customer oriented it is not. Try find out anything on their website.  Yes, that’s a dare.

Customer centric business is a no brainer today, or at least it should be.  If I want to purchase from you I should be able to navigate my way to what I want from you within just a few clicks. Or how about tweeting my query and getting real answer (not “go to our website” or “send us an email”)? I came up against Vodacom’s complexity back in February when I wanted to get the Galaxy SII smartphone.  There was just no way for me to determine if I could get it on my current contract or what I’d have to pay in.  In short I couldn’t get any info that would be helpful to me. I then tried to get the same info from their 111 customer service number.  Forget about it.

My thought was how could such a large company succeed with such a customer labyrinth?

The answer is simple enough – the two large networks have pretty much enjoyed a monopoly of sorts. Perhaps a bit dramatic but certainly they’ve had a captive market and when that condition exists customer service will always be a lower order of priority. And no amount of tweeting, Facebooking and Hello Petering would change it.  Because, hey, where else you going to go?

It’s a bit demoralizing when you feel your voice will not be heard and you realise you’re basically irrelevant.  This despite the R40K a year I fork over for the privilege of mobile access.

However, the day of reckoning, I believe, is close.  Cell-C is now becoming a serious competitive contender with their recent “Straight Up” deals.  Simplified and understandable contracts and rates.  Finally. Under Allan Knott-Craig they are aggressively chasing market share.

There have long been rumours of MTN/Vodacom collusion on various aspects of mobile pricing.  Whether or not these rumours are true will become irrelevant in the face of good old fashioned competition. Add to that the continuing downward pressure on communication costs and we see that the party at consumer expense is winding down.

Vodacom and MTN cannot continue their practice of obfuscation and customer ignorance and hope that we, their beaten customers, will hang around. Not when real choice rolls around.