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FEATURE: Telkom has a new customer service head, so why are customers still complaining?

Dec 25 2018 14:22
Ina Opperman

Although Telkom appointed a new head of customer service in June this year - who promised to have a task force in place by August to resolve consumer complaints - many customers are still complaining that their complaints are not resolved, with no feedback about what is being done to help.

Serame Taukobong, the new head of customer service, reportedly said communication was paramount. This is exactly what Mduduzi Hlomuka complains about: no communication about his complaint, apart from generic text messages.

He complained in October about an issue with the LTE network and two months later his complaint has not been resolved. According to Hlomuka, nobody from Telkom has called him to say if any progress has been made with resolving his complaint.

He says when he calls Telkom, he is sent from pillar to post and nobody wants to give him Taukobong’s number to complain.

When Hlomuka complained for the first time, he says, Telkom promised to send a technician to his house within a week, but the technician never showed up. When he wanted to cancel his contract because he is not getting any service from Telkom, he says he was threatened with cancellation penalties.

He pays R1 200 per month for a service he is unable to use.

He further says his mother was sold a contract in-store with a phone she did not need. Because she knows nothing about technology, he claims, she took the offer. When her children pointed out that she was sold a “nonsense” phone and she tried to return it, staff at the store asked her why she opened the box if she did not want it.

“Telkom is very abusive to customers and takes us for granted,” Hlomuka says.

Asked if its complaint management system reminds staff of complaints that are taking very long to resolve, Telkom responded that it has an online process for logging faults and cancellations. Customers can access Telkom’s self-diagnosis guide, troubleshoot their issues, submit queries online or call the contact centre.

The spokesperson explained that all online queries are tracked, but said human error can slip in when consumers log complaints through the call contact centre or at a store. Consumers are therefore encouraged to complain online, because all online cases are traceable and can be tracked end to end.

Telkom did not say if it has a system to give consumers feedback on their complaints or comment on the alleged inaccessibility of senior staff regarding customer complaints.

Contrary to what Hlomuka relates, Telkom says although cancellation fees may be charged in some cases, requests for cancellation are considered on an individual basis, especially when there are coverage issues. The spokesperson says customers can cancel their service at any time by giving 30 days’ notice.

According to Section 19 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), it is an implied condition of an agreement that the supplier is responsible for performing the services on the agreed date and time or within a reasonable time at the agreed place at the agreed cost. If the supplier does not agree on another delivery time, the consumer can cancel the agreement without penalty.

Telkom did not indicate if anybody in the company checks if technicians actually visit consumers as promised.

Asked if Telkom has LTE network problems, the spokesperson said the company was continually investing in its infrastructure to offer customers the best network in South Africa.

“We recently signed a roaming agreement with Vodacom and we are continuing to invest in our LTE and fibre networks.

“Where reception is not optimal, we do look at ways we can improve service, such as better placement of the modem and router in the home, as well as internal and external antennae,” the spokesperson said.

Regarding the allegation that staff in stores are selling phones to consumers that they do not need, the spokesperson said staff are trained in customer service and Telkom products. “Should consumers be unhappy with the service they receive in store, they can contact us.”

The spokesperson did not respond to the question of whether staff in stores earn commission on selling phones.

“We do understand that some people may find it hard to use technology. The manufacturers of the phones stipulate the seven days’ return policy and will only accept a faulty phone within this period,” Telkom said. The company did not respond to the issue of customers not understanding what they were buying.

telecommunications  |  telkom  |  customer service
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