the trouble with data in south africa


I’ve gone back to my trusted BlackBerry 8900. Within minutes of buying 300MB for R120 on Wednesday evening I started receiving smses notifying me of my rapidly disappearing data bundle. The first one telling me, after just a few hours of use, that I had used more than 70% of my data purchased. I was slightly puzzled but thought back to the half-hour long conversation I’d had with the call centre and the reason why I happily used my Samsung Omnia 7 without panic:

1. Your data bundle will only activate in 24 hours.
2. Your data bundle will carry for seven months if you don’t use it all but after seven months it falls away.
3. You can cap/lock your data usage so it doesn’t exceed the specified amount.

At midnight on Friday I received the final sms that made me realize something was horribly wrong: it stated that I had already exceeded my data bundle and to refer to my statement for billing. As soon as I got up the following morning I was told I had been misinformed by the overzealous call centre woman from Wednesday night. And in fact:

1. That there was no such service as locking or capping at Vodacom and that I had been charged R70 for exceeding my limit
2. That all unused data falls away on the  1st of each month.
3. That there is a delay of at least six hours in capturing data usage so the smses are in fact not giving you up to the minute reports but rather belated ones.
4. That when you purchase data mid-month you get a percentage proportion of the data – proportional to the number of days passed/left over in the month. WTF! Who the hell asked them?

So as delightful as the Windows Phone 7 is, until Vodacom sorts out its Internet act, I can’t possibly afford the data headache when I can happily mail, surf, tweet, facebook, pin, bbm… for R70 a month on BlackBerry. I wonder what kind of packages are on offer for iPhone… Or maybe I haven’t learnt my lesson.

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4 thoughts on “the trouble with data in south africa

  1. The iPhone saps data too… not the phone’s fault, but again the problem of SA networks not having figured out a happy way of using smart phones without incurring huge data expenses. On MTN, they gave me my iPhone with a pre-loaded 150MB bundle. If I am very, very careful and don’t check emails too often, and NEVER surf or download anything unless on a wifi network, the 150MB lasts until the middle of the month. I tried buying a bigger monthly bundle – “no, 150MB is part of your contract. You can’t change it now!” so I tried adding another bundle – “No, you;re on a contract, you can’t add on another data bundle unless you’re on pay-as-you-go”. i.e. MTN lets you buy the phone but they will charge you R2.50 per MB used out of bundle and there’s nothing you can do about it. Go Vodacom and MTN – you are awesome.

    • It’s just unbelievable! Why can’t you change it? And why can’t you top up if you’re on contract? I think you may have helped me make my decision. BlackBerry all the way methinks. Thanks for the feedback Karen! And the visit 😉

  2. In terms of affordability, I’m with you there, all the way. It must be said though, having switched from Blackberry to iPhone the whole user experience on the iPhone is way out of BB’s league… incredible interface. *Almost* worth the expense 😉

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