Bayanda Mzoneli

About Bayanda Mzoneli

Bayanda Mzoneli is a public servant. He writes in his personal capacity.

After a very long time busy with other things, I eventually visited the Vodacom 4 me website yesterday to check on my data bundle balance and the expiry date. My interest on this was restored by that my 3G modem has not been in use for the past 3-4 weeks because of a technical problem.

While surfing through the site, I discovered that my personal cellphone contract was due for upgrade on 17 August 2009. I had been looking forward to it anxiously earlier in the year, but it slipped my mind while I was busy selling my labour.

After much research, I entered into a Vodacom Business Top Up contract in November 2005. At the time I chose the Sony Erickson P910i handset which came free on this package. In September 2007 I was due for an upgrade and went for a Sony Ericcson P990i, which was essentially a sequel to the P910i. I am now due for another upgrade.

I like it when I am due for an upgrade. It gives me an opportunity to evaluate my mobile technology needs and the accompanying spending patterns. In this instance I use my personal contract phone for both calls and internet connection. The reason I do not use the 3G modem offered by the employer is mostly because I have to fill in forms first. I hate filling in forms with passion. I don’t mind being waterborded by the Internal Stability Unit or kidnapped by the Al Qaeda but if you give me a form to fill in, it is grave torture on my person.

Last time I was due for an upgrade I advised the call centre that it would be nice if they had the FIFA like ranking of cellphones. If I say I want a phone with the longest battery life in the country because I travel a lot, they should tell me which one it is and give it to me. Seeing that I was due for an upgrade, I instantly called Vodacom Direct, my Sercvice Provider. I told the fellow I spoke to what I had told the call centre 2 years ago and now that I am due for an upgrade I wanted to know which phone is the best in terms of battery life. He mumbled a lot of things except telling me the name of the phone. It became apparent that they had not followed my suggestion. He recommended GSM Arena, a website for phone reviews. I told him I visit the site every 2 months, but I know it is an international website it might have phones which are not available in the country. Besides, I have a full time job, I can’t be comparing 984 different phones to find the one with the longest battery life. We agreed that his company has poor service in this regard.

I currently use a Nokia E51. This phone has everything you find on the E 70 something and E 90 something, yet it is half the size. I checked on the Nokia website if they have a sequel and to much joy I found they released the E52 in July 2009. I checked the features, they are perfect. They have put the front camera for video calling which was missing on E51, the battery life is good, the internet is faster, the size remains almost the same and I’m happy.

I called the Vodacom Direct call centre again, this time I want to place an order for the E52. The lady tells me that they don’t have it in stock. She does not know when it will be available. I call this stage of the conversation a ‘dead end’ or ‘cul de sac’ of the conversation (c) [I’ll register that with CIPRO before others use it.] I try harder to break through it. I ask to give me the number of the person who usual tells her when there is a new phone in stock, she says she is not allowed to give it out. I then do what I am not naughty of doing, I give up.

I go to the Nokia website and search of their South African Head Office numbers to ask them about the phone. I after much spiral navigation on their website I find the call centre number. A lady answers on the other line. I explain my problem to her and ask when is the phone coming. He lets me hold. A few seconds later she returns and says she can’t help me I have to go to Nokia in Vodaworld in Midrand. I ask for their number she does not have it. Another conversation culdesac.

I eventually get the number for Nokia in Vodaworld. A brother answers when I call. I explain my problem to him. He tells me that he attended a Conference last week. The E52 was exhibited but there was no mention of when it will be coming to South Africa. I ask him to give me the number of the person who gives countries cellphones at Nokia. He says that is not allowed. I then I tell him to call that person and check with them while I hold. He says he can’t do that he will have to return to me later. He takes my name and number.

I decide to call Vodacom now, not Vodacom Direct. Yes, those are 2 different companies. I simply ask for the number of the Head Office, they give it to me.

I call Head Office and ask them where do phones come from. They direct me to the warehouse. At the warehouse they say they only manage available stock, it is SOP (I think it’s Stock Order Processing) that orders phones. At SOP they tell me that the phone will be available at the end of September 2009. Finally, someone says something. I then ask this fellow if he would do an affidavit to say the phone will arrive in September so that I don’t end up waiting in vain. He refuses citing that Nokia is having problems with the phone which is why it is delayed. This guy explains the details and it’s clear he knows his story. I am partially convinced that the phone will be available by then.

Now all I have to do is wait. There is something about waiting. There is a friend of mine who is a Tender Predator (c) who usually borrows money from me and promise to pay at the month end. When a government department does not pay him on time, he calls on the day he should paying and explain his troubles asking for an extension. After the extension he sometimes call again to ask for a further extension and I always allow him because he will eventually pay, even if it is after 3 months from the initially promised date. (Note that this only applies to him because I know his parents.) I don’t mind because I know that all future dates will eventually come. End of September may seem a bit far now in the context of my anxiety to get the E52, but I know it will come.

This phone is worth waiting for. Until then, the delays deny me the technology that comes with it.

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