MTN: I am now a true road-warrior – WTF?

Thanks to MTN’s pathetic service (they manage to set the bar quite low in the first place) and their incompetence to properly handle an insurance claim for a damaged phone, I am now using a true road-warrior phone:


Till yesterday I had a N95 8GB with which I was able to sync my contacts, read my mail and plan my day and tasks ahead. My trusty N95 died a sudden death, and seeing that I have been paying MTN R 800,00 annually on insurance alone, I thought getting a replacement phone or an adequate loan-phone would have been a walk in the park.

While other mobile service providers will give you an adequate replacement phone, MTN didn’t even have a loan-phone in store (this was at 9am in the morning). The 6111 depicted above is my wife’s old phone, as MTN eventually dug up some model that was not even able to synchronize contacts or my calendar items. (This should give you an impression on how crap MTN’s attempt to help a customer was)

The Northgate Service Centre manager was completely uninterested in assisting and felt that providing me with a crap loan-phone was the best effort he can make. I was also guaranteed that the N95 will be fixed/replaced soon — I heard this two years ago, where soon turned into 4 weeks.


  • I have been a contract subscriber with you for 14 years.
  • My average spend is about R 700 – 800 p.m.
  • While I consulted overseas for 3 years, my monthly call-charges exceeded R 8,000 (every month)
  • You could not be bothered to show some goodwill and replace an anyway defunct phone with a replacement (and in the process will lose out on further revenue)
  • You refused to repair my phone in 2007 since you claimed you don’t cover accidental damage (although your policy does). After waiting for 4 weeks, I bought the N95 for 7K cash as I could not wait any longer to receive daily excuses.
  • When I transferred ownership of my phone/SIM from my business account into my personal capacity in January 2009, you decided to ignore all the previous hundreds of thousands of Rand you got and gave me a really cool credit-rating resulting in my phone being barred within 10 days.
  • During the last 12 months my phone “magically” lost it’s voice-mail settings 4 times.
  • You decided to remove my international roaming (which I used to have for 13 years) and provided me with great embarrassment, since I had absolutely no service in a foreign country.
  • Since December 2008 I have not ever received a single paper tax-invoice and statement. Your call-centre acknowledged that there is an invoice problem, but it will be sorted soon.
  • In the past your customer service centre used to proactively call customers to renew their contracts. I was due for a premature upgrade since November and for a regular upgrade since January — you have missed the chance to bind me with another contract.

The above list can go on forever, and while my monthly revenue-stream to you, MTN, is not really much, I am hoping that with the current transition in the cellular market in South Africa, you will really feel the heat and improve your customer service.

A company which is incapable of holding on to existing customers will very soon feel how economy is turning on you and how this will affect your bottom-line.

In case you still have not figured out how to have handled the above situation (but obviously lateral thinking does not feature in your company culture):

  • Replace the phone and keep a customer happy or at least make the effort to arrange for an alternative phone. Yes, you will argue, that you are not obliged to provide a loan-phone, but this would have been just one benefit why I would have stayed with you MTN!
  • You would have noticed that I was due for an upgrade since November and could have offered an upgrade instead while the N95 is in repairs.

If you follow HelloPeter (which has 4500 complaints listed against you) or other consumer forums, you will notice, that MTN has lost the plot with customer service and is too busy focusing on their expansion plans. MTN, remember what they thought your managers in business school (provided they actually passed): Customer loyalty and retention is key. It will cost you less to up- and cross-sell than it will to acquire new customers. And judging from your over-enthusiastic employees, the company motto seems to have changed to “Ignorance is bliss”