Cellphone stores leave customers calling for help

Brandon Damons bought a Sony Xperia M2 Aqua for R3 999 from American Swiss at the Promenade in Mitchell’s Plain, on June 20, last year.

“In August, the cellphone’s key pad starting giving me problems and I took the phone in for repairs. I got the phone back after it had been repaired two weeks later. Soon after I got it back, the phone went blank and switched off. Again I took it back for repairs. And this time I got it back three weeks later. In November, I experienced problems with the key pad again and again I returned it but this time I demanded a new phone (which Mr Damons was entitled to under the Consumer Protection Act),” the Lentegeur man told me.

“I did not get a new phone but the manager of American Swiss said Vodacom wanted to give me a refurbished phone. I think it is unfair as I have not used my phone, even though I pay my bill on time. I owe them R800 and I had to buy another phone. Please help,” Mr Damons pleaded.

It didn’t take long for Vodacom to come up with the goods.

Vodacom spokesman Byron Kennedy said that as a company that complies with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), they will be replacing the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua with a new cellphone.

“The value will be equivalent to what he paid for the Xperia and after an investigation and several discussions with Mr Damons he has selected the Samsung A3.

“The decision to offer Mr Damons a new device is in line with the CPA, which states that if a device is booked in three times or more for the same fault, the customer has the right to request a refund or a new device. An order has been placed for the phone and Mr Damons has been advised that it is on his way to him,” said Mr Kennedy who confirmed what Mr Damons told me.

“Mr Damons bought a Sony Xperia M2 Aqua and when it was rebooked in for repairs again in February it was exchanged with a refurbished phone which he would not accept,” Mr Kennedy said.

Mr Damons told me Vodacom had agreed to give him a new Samsung A3 which will be delivered to him. “I want to thank you for your assistance. I really appreciate it.”

Minty Okocha of Bothasig also got a new phone from Vodacom after her BlackBerry 9720 she bought two years ago gave her endless problems. Ms Okocha said she paid R1 999 when it was on a special in July 2014.

“Within a year it started giving me problems: it continuously rebooted on its own and I booked it in for repairs at Canal Walk and it was okay. Six months later the same thing occurred and worse, it wouldn’t charge so I took it back to the Canal Walk store in February and the woman told me the phone had been discontinued and Vodacom would probably replace it with one to the value of between R1 300 and R1 400. But I would have to pay a fee for repairs. I objected because it was still under warranty. Another Vodacom assistant who was standing nearby suggested I ‘take the phone to the Pakistanis’ to be fixed but I refused to do so. The assistant said she would put it on the system that I was not happy paying for the repairs,” Ms Okocha told me.

Three days later, much to Ms Okocha’s surprise, she got a call to say the phone is ready for collection, although they said it could take up to two weeks to be repaired.

“When I went to collect it I was shocked by their customer service, rather non-service. I was told I must pay the fee and take my phone even though ‘it is permanently damaged’. They implied I had damaged the phone while charging it. How ridiculous is that? I have been using cellphones for a long time, surely I know how to charge a phone?

“Why is it only the BlackBerry that gives these problems. The manager was also most unhelpful. I refuse to pay for a phone that hasn’t been fixed,” she said.

Soon after she posted a complaint on Hello Peter, Ms Okocha received a call from Vodacom to say they’ve sent the phone for advance repairs. “Now I’m getting calls that the phone is ready for collection and still permanently irreparable. Why did they sell me a phone they knew had problems, now they’re refusing to take full responsibility for it. Please I need your help, Vodacom cannot get away with selling phones they know will break before the two year warranty is up.”

Mr Kennedy said they investigated the repair history of Ms Okocha’s BlackBerry and “because of the numerous repairs and the validity of the two year manufacturer’s warranty, we have offered to replace the device to the same value of the BlackBerry”.

Ms Okocha accepted the offer to replace her BlackBerry. “I wish to thank you very much for intervening in my situation. This outcome would not have been possible if it wasn’t for you. Keep up the brilliant work you’re doing. You are our voice,” Ms Okocha said.