Category Archives: Muppets

Virgin Active Muppets

It’s time for a blog post about Virgin Active. I’ve been emailing them about these things, but they don’t seem to think this is useful feedback. So here are my thoughts about the Silo gym at the Waterfront.

I think…

  • The pool could be 25m long. What fool decided to make it shorter?
  • The sauna could work. It uses 100ml water / 3min. Keeping the sauna on for a day uses around 20 litres of water. This is less than a single shower. Don’t try and tell me they are trying to save water by switching the sauna off.
  • They could add an area where you can stretch – not just the grid area – gets busy and loud. In a place that big, how can there not be an area to stretch?
  • The changing rooms could be WAY bigger – must be the same genius designer that figured out their unique swimming pool length.
  • They could make the parking free if you go early in the morning when the parking area has almost no cars.
  • Internet: They might as well keep the wifi password the same for a few months. Nobody likes asking for their l33T hAX0r passwords all the time.
  • Wifi speeds at Silo gym: 4Mbps down, 2Mbps up. In 2017, with fibre in the area?
  • That Fortinet firewall / content filter is super lame.
  • Yeah, I know the internet at the other clubs is way worse. Stuck in 2004. You can’t even download the Uber app with the daily traffic allowance at most clubs. *facepalm*
  • I’m still mildly annoyed they don’t let kids visit this gym.
  • Add bulletproof coffee to the coffee shop menus. The Point used to have this. Not anymore.

There you have it. Things to be aware of when you ponder joining a Virgin Active gym.

“The fancy one.”

Muppets.

Sportsmans Warehouse Muppets

Dear Sportsmans Warehouse, Sea Point – you guys suck.

In fact, Polar watch straps also suck – but that’s another story. I’m trying to get my watch strap repaired for the 2nd time.

My watch has been at your Sea Point branch for more than a week and you still have not sent it off to Joburg to get fixed and nobody has phoned me with a price for a new strap.

walter_watch

Is it that hard to courier something to Joburg overnight and get me a price?

I visited your shop two days ago to hear what the story is. I was promised somebody would phone me yesterday. Nothing.

*sigh*

UPDATE 25-05-2015:

I received this:

Text message
Text message

“Winning Starts Here!”

UPDATE 26-05-2015:

I have a watch again. It cost more than R0.00 to fix, but I’m happy.

What if the Emperor had no Spectrum?

Just pick up the phone…?

Background

I’ve been more than a bit annoyed at how Vodacom’s network quality has degraded in the last few weeks. The last few months have been pretty bad, but the last few weeks have been painful. Dropped calls, calls taking forever to connect, periods of silence and noise in the call, iMessages sent as SMS after a few retries. You get the idea.

Their Twitter support people have been giving me answers like: “As per the feedback in the SR logged to Networks, our Network Engineers are still busy with upgrades in your area.” (in office hours? for a whole week? WTF?) or “our Network team will contact you as soon as any updates is available.” (yes, that was a cut and paste). Muppets.

What I find frustrating is that they seem to be very happy for me to keep paying for a degraded service and not even notifying me that their service is going to be degraded for weeks.

Scope of the problem

So, I start asking around… Charl: “MTN as well… Stellenbosch has a massive reception issue.” Dave: “Been to JHB of late Joe? There were times I had to drive to find a Vodacom signal so Maps could update and tell me where I was supposed to be going. We’ve got spoilt with near ubiquitous coverage I suppose.” Ben: “Have you had the unfortunate experience of working in Technopark? This morning a developer had to phone back 4 times before we could complete a 2 minute conversation. You might as well use empty cans and really long pieces of string.”

Seems it’s not just me. Ask any of your friends if they think their service has improved in the last 6 months?

matrix

What if the Emperor had no Spectrum?

What if we’ve all believed that GSM networks “just work” – and we were wrong? What if people built businesses on the assumption that GSM networks will always be up and offer good quality service. Car tracking, payment systems, emergency services, mobile health.

It’s a nice warm bubble and we’ve been very lucky with good service over the last few years, but one has to ponder the scenario where it becomes way less dependable.

Factors

  • Smartphones – The perfect storm, “Cisco’s Visual Network Index anticipates mobile data traffic to increase 39 times globally between 2009 and 2014.” — Mobile Data Demand by the Numbers. “The projected 2012 to 2017 global mobile data traffic increase represents a compound annual growth rate of 66 percent.” — Cisco
  • Cost and Load. The cheaper the service gets the more load on the network. We’ve been seeing and extended price war for the last year – on voice and data. Vodacom slashes prepaid call rates.
  • Should ICASA not be regulating the quality of our service? “Ah HA HA HA HA HA! No, unlike almost every single other country in the world, including most in Africa, Icasa does not independently measure cellphone quality, it relies on the MNOs to self-report. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?” — Roger
  • Will LTE save us? Sure, they are busy re-farming spectrum for LTE. More efficient for data – once more than 100 people have working LTE devices, but it’s not helping with voice call load. In the short term this LTE “upgrade” might be a big part of my problem. Refarming spectrum is compromising voice networks.
  • More spectrum? I have a feeling the process of refarming spectrum for LTE is a way of forcing government to give the existing MNOs more spectrum. Could work. Could take a long time and we’ll be stuck with poor service. It’s government, who knows?

mphone

What now?

Make sure your business model does not depend on good quality GSM network services.

Invest in Wifi. About 70% of Smartphone data traffic already travels via WiFi and not mobile
networks.

..and in my case, get more annoyed for a week or so while waiting for Vodacom to give me any form of sensible answer to my complaints.. then make peace with the idea that things are not going to get any better soon.

Now you know.

Muppets.

UPDATES:

  • After some research, as suspected, Vodacom is using voice spectrum for LTE – voice spectrum which was probably already pretty congested and needed. This is the root cause of my pain – AND they have been unable (?) to tell me this in the weeks I’ve been asking them to sort out the quality of my calls. I think you’ll agree this is pretty evil.
  • GSM Signal maps: gr8signal.co.za and opensignal.com
  • “telcos are billing companies with a small network attached” — JP
  • Hiding the truth from SA consumers.
  • Fellow Vodacom customers – I personally think you should be mad as hell and start complaining in every public forum you can.
  • Let’s try and picture the conversation between Vodacom Marketing and Vodacom Networks…
    Marketing: We need to be first to launch LTE.
    Networks: We don't have enough spectrum.
    Marketing: We need to support the iPhone5 and my ten friends who have them.
    Networks: We'll be FIRST to piss off most of our customers by neglecting basic voice services.
    Marketing: Have you seen my new iPhone5?
  • Vodacom increases pre-paid data bundle price with 335%. – Might be that Vodacom and MTN are a bit screwed with the current spectrum allocations. CellC and 8ta have much better spectrum for data services.
  • The solution… seems to be to move to Cell C, oh and pay less, let’s ponder that for a second. Now there’s the legal question – must a customer still pay to get out of a contract when Vodacom make a decision to degrade the service? (excluding hardware costs obviously)
  • Btw. The @Vodacom Twitter account person/people did ask for my number two days before I published this post. Before I wrote this I reminded them to please phone me. No phone call yet. Case study in failure.
  • Seems Vodacom is still best for avg signal strength, but Cell C is in a healthy 2nd position overall and probably on par for urban areas.

Standard Bank Muppets

Standard Bank is special.

The story starts with me standing in a queue for 30 min. I’m there trying to get a new “ATM PIN”. Not that I’m EVER planning to use the card in my hand at an ATM.

In September we opened an extra business account and promptly got a debit card with a PIN in the envelope. Cool. Easy. Only, the card just would not let me complete the online banking registration process. I visited the Stellenbosch branch THREE times to figure out the problem, get a new card, do the registration…

After the online banking registration worked and I set up a new PIN and password I put the tiny transparent ATM PIN paper in the bin. Not sure why I even need a debit card number to log into online banking anyway – even less an ATM PIN.

Let’s pause here and remember the days before internet banking – the days when flat bits of plastic with magnetic strips made sense.

Moving on..

Last week I try to log into online banking and I see something like: “sorry you have not been registered for self-service banking”. I phone the call centre. Seems my online banking profile was deleted. They can’t tell me why. The solution is to re-register – with the ATM PIN. I ask them to investigate – they log a “technical query” and tell me they will phone me back.

Sense of humour failure.

At the bank they tell me the card I have is not linked to ANY bank account. No logs. Just gone.

The lady behind the counter does not really seem surprised. Oh, well, another random magically unlinked card. “Usually it does not let me re-link them, I have to issue a new one.” Usually?

WTF?

Muppets.

ps. Do you think the call centre ever phoned me back to tell me why things were magically deleted?

Jimmy the Fish Stellenbosch Muppets

Just got back from a disaster of a meal at Jimmy the Fish in Stellenbosch.

Context: The kids like the play area there, so it was given a second chance. A bit more than a week ago we were served pretty raw fish (as hake and chips). Complained, got a new meal. I explained to the manager at the time that this was not the first time the fish was under-cooked.

Tonight: As you walk in there is a sign than says: “Wait to be seated”, but you’ll die of old age before anybody cares to seat you. After sitting for 10 minutes I called the manager over, told him about poor service the previous times and complained than nobody had taken my drinks order yet. The children’s food arrives and the calamari has not been cleaned properly. I complain to a different manager, they take it back. A few minutes later my meal arrives, same problem.

The 2nd manager I talked to tonight was the same one we had with the raw fish story. Obviously not very interested in improving things.

Big problems. Don’t go there.

Muppets.

Audi Centre Somerset West Muppets

A quick venting session..

I bought an Audi from Audi Centre Somerset West in December – yeah, I moved to Stellenbosch – it’s the closest one. I soon discovered the wiper fluid bottle was leaking. Nothing major, but early January I got tired of the car telling me to fill up the wiper fluid.

I made a booking to have the bottle replaced. They had already ordered the part in December. So I arrive there one morning pretty early only to discover that the plastic bottle had not arrived – mildly annoyed – surely they could have phoned me and delayed the service date.

Two weeks go by. I phone three times to try and figure out if this all singing and dancing bottle had arrived yet. I end up leaving three messages and nobody phones me back.

I phone the guy who sold me the car. He tells me that the bottle had arrived and he’ll sort it out – by making a service booking. I phone again – no service booking had been made. Really classy.

I took the car to them again this morning. I confirm that it’s only a one day job to replace this very special plastic bottle. “Yeah, should have it back by 16:00.” Cool.

I get a phone call at 15:30 saying that they are not going to be able to finish installing this plastic bottle. They need the car for another day. There is no way I can get a courtesy car. They are going to stop the work – put the car back together and give it back to me. I have to make another booking and hope that next time they can complete this super complex plastic bottle open heart surgery process in one day.

FFS!

I’m going to have to go back a third time to have a plastic bottle replaced.

UPDATE Mon, 6 Feb 2012:

Turns out the bottle was not leaking, but there was a problem with a pipe to/from the bottle. Well, that’s their story. The week after I wrote the original post they arranged a courtesy car for me and my car spent two full days with them (30 and 31 Jan). The service department people were very friendly.

The sales person and the top brass at the dealership stopped responding to my emails at some point (around 18 Jan) – this was a bit strange. I guess they studied at the “ignore the customer until he is happy” school of customer service.

The bad news is that over the weekend I got a wiper fluid warning message again. My car is still not able to hold any wiper fluid. I took it back on Monday morning. Seems it needs to go back for another two days.

ps. Coincidentally, and I guess this makes me feel a mild bit better about this experience: one of my long term blog readers was going to buy a car from these Muppets, but has decided to go somewhere else after reading this post.

Web Africa Muppets

If you ever need a quick temporary ADSL account…

I got to the office today and the fibre line is down. No problem – let’s just reset the ADSL router in the corner, cool – it syncs – now I just need an ADSL account. Easy.

I phone up Web Africa. I explain it’s an emergency and I probably only need the account for the day – but I have no internet access.

Abigail sells me a 2GB pre-paid account by credit card. Cool.

She ask me to check my email for account details. Nope, can’t do that – no internet remember. Ok, I get put through to support.

Darryl tells me to find the account details by logging into their client portal – nope, can’t do that – no internet, he sends me an SMS with the account details. I try those – nope – can’t get an IP – I figure out that he SMS’d me details to their client portal – and NOT the ADSL login details I asked for.

I phone support again. Darryl reads me the ADSL login details. It connects this time but I get a page which asks me to top-up my account? Then he tells me that they’ve been having a problem with their top-up system today and I can only use the account “later” – it’s a “minor thing” which they are working on.

All I wanted was an ADSL account for the day which would work as soon as I paid.

RSAWeb worked out way better. One call which ended with working account details in the router. I needed to talk to only one person and I got 3GB of traffic at less than what I paid for the 2GB Web Africa traffic.

UPDATE 12:05

Got a call from RSAWeb to check if everything is working. Nice.

UPDATE – the next day at 13:30

The Web Africa top-brass sent me an email and added some extra traffic to my account (thanks). They seem keen to improve the customer experience for the case above.

UPDATE – Dec 5 11:25

I get a text message saying RSAWeb is billing me R158.00 – which I can only assume is them mistakenly signing me up to some form of recurring service. *sigh*

MWeb Muppets

Dear MWeb Muppets

Yesterday I phoned both Mweb and Telkom to cancel an ADSL service.

Telkom was pretty easy, some call centre DTMF routing, get to an agent, tell them I want the line and ADSL service to end on 30 Sept, I get an SMS 5min later confirming the cancellation. No problem.

I phone MWeb. They tell me I have to fax them a form and they are going to bill me for an extra month (October).

I get the MSWord form. It does not print in Pages and it asks me to agree to pay for the extra month and sign it. Not very nice.

I start talking to @MWebguy on Twitter. I point out that the CPA allows me to cancel a contract with 20 days notice (Part C, section 14.2) .. yesterday was the 7th of Sept. He asks me to send an email from my Mweb email account to their billing department.

I’ve never used my Mweb email account.. in fact my Mweb email account is: ssladmin@mweb.co.za – this on it’s own should point out how lame they are because this email address would allow me to go order myself a www.mweb.co.za SSL cert.

Some Twitter entertainment:

Mweb: @SwimGeek pls also note that a Calender month notice period needs to be provided; therefore account will be cxld by end of Oct

Mweb: @SwimGeek you need to send the request from your MWEB email or fill out the forms. Would you like me to resend the forms?

Joe: @MWEBGuy Are you saying because nobody is able to change the From: field in an email you can trust an email coming from my Mweb address?

Mweb: @SwimGeek its is a legal requirement, unfortunately our CCU team will not process the request if it comes from another email address.

Joe: @MWEBGuy It’s braindead. I sent the email from my usual address. I feel a blog post coming on.

UPDATE: MWeb responded. I was wrong about the CPA.. it’s 20 _business_ days.. so their T&C’s apply.

It would be nice if their T&C’s did not require a full calendar month, but only the time needed to exclude a cancellation from their next debit order run – maybe 7 business days before the end of the month.

As for the MS Word paper form or email with specific From: address – well, somebody needs to look into this. If Telkom can cancel with a phone call we know it’s possible.

HTC ChaCha Review

I’ve had an HTC ChaCha for about 10 days now. The experience has been, in one word: lame.

Background
I’ve had a few Nokia’s – E61, E71, E72. Not really something you want to browse the web on, but they worked pretty well. I’ve had a few iOS devices.

Why did I not just get an iPhone4?
1) Not the best reception / antenna design. I often struggle to phone iPhone users.
2) No keypad. I don’t like typing on a screen.
3) Battery life.
4) I could not find a free SSH client. Not sure I like the ecosystem.

The HTC ChaCha was the first phone I spotted which was close enough in design to the E72, but which could probably have a useful web browsing experience. Yes, the Facebook button is UBER lame, but there are not many designs like this.

My Experience
It cost about R3300. It runs Android 2.3.3. Two minutes after I took it out of the box I noticed the plastic casing on the one side did not line up. Took it back, got a new one. A day later I noticed the one key only works about 70% of the time. Can’t sync my calendar and contacts with Apple iSync. Battery lasts only 1.5 days max. UI apps have crashed a few times. Finding a very simple app to make notes is painful – 500 half baked apps (all rated 4.5 stars) to experiment with. It seems to want a Google account for everything. General UX of iOS is much more polished.

Rock and a hard place
Is this it? Did IQ’s just drop suddenly? Why in 2011, can I not find a replacement for the Nokia E series? How hard can it be to make a phone with a keypad which has 3 days of battery life? FFS. HTC build quality is shockingly bad. Android is okay, but I expected more.

When the phone was 8 days old, I took it back to the shop. They told me that because it’s more than 7 days old my only option is to have it repaired.

So on Friday, I’m going to print out section 56 of the CPA and go tell the mobile phone shop that I want one which actually has functional keys.. but what I really want is my money back and a Nokia E6.

Probably the most annoying part is that for a number of years it was easy to know which phone I wanted next. At the moment I’m clueless. I don’t really want any of them.

Apple and Google – you suck, thanks for taking us a few steps sideways (if not backwards). Thanks for dominating the market and leading it to create this crap.

HTC – You are true Muppets.

Nokia – why, oh why? …so many wrong choices.

UPDATE Friday 12 Aug

I visited the Vodacom shop today. They confirmed the one key was faulty. They needed to order a new keypad to fix it. They asked me what I wanted to do. I said: I’d like my money back. They wanted to know if I’d had the phone for more than 7 days. Well, yes.. 13 days. So, the lady responded with “In that case, hell no”.

I said, I’m just going to go fetch a print-out of the Consumer Protection Act from my car and then we’ll talk again.

Section 56 of the CPA: Implied warranty of quality
(2) Within six months after the delivery of any goods to a consumer, the
consumer may return the goods to the supplier, without penalty and at the supplier’s risk and expense, if the goods fail to satisfy the
requirements and standards contemplated in section 55, and the supplier
must, at the direction of the consumer, either:
(a) repair or replace the failed, unsafe or defective goods; or
(b) refund to the consumer the price paid by the consumer, for the goods.

When I returned she seemed busy for about 5 minutes. She returned with a copy of an internal document.

She read my printed CPA page. Then she read the company brief on what to do. The Vodacom document’s wording was similar to the CPA wording but it seemed to require me to follow the Vodacom processes and policies.. not really the way I read the CPA. I pointed out that the CPA gives me the option to choose how I’d like the matter resolved.

At this point the lady insisted that the Vodacom doc was the same or more relevant than the law. I suggested a solution. Let me give you back this phone and I’ll buy the more expensive Nokia E6?

Nope.

“Well, then I have to send the phone to Joburg,” she said. She started filling in a special form for “CPA Implied warranty” matters.

I have to wonder if she knew about this form when she told me “hell no” I’m just going to have to live with the lame phone because I’ve had it more than 7 days.

So. Now I’m without a phone. Awesome. I’m wondering if the “without penalty” wording above is relevant. It seems a lot like a penalty to me. It’s most certainly very inconvenient.

They agreed to respond within 10 days.

UPDATE Tuesday 16 Aug

Today, 4 days later, I get a text message saying my phone is ready for collection.

I phoned the Vodacom store. They were very happy to inform me that they have repaired the HTC ChaCha… really?

They seem to now have no recollection of the process of filling it the CPA form or saying they would send it to Joburg. I asked who the person was who changed the plan and decided they should repair the phone. They offered to give me some other call centre number if I wanted to find that person. Very useful dead end.

From the Vodacom Trade Bulletin I have:
The Act states that if the device fails within 6 months to meet the standard, a customer can return the device and the supplier must at the direction of the consumer either: a) Repair or replace the failed or defective goods b) refund the consumer the price paid. It is imperative to communicate to customers that the above WILL happen within the company’s prescribed policies and procedures. A request from a customer for one of the above does not mean that they are entitled – the company still has the right to determine its course of action and the REPAIR process will remain our first course of action because our starting point is to determine if the device is in fact faulty and what the nature of the fault is.

Does the above seem a bit contradictory to anybody? The Act certainly does not say that the company may ignore the customers requests.

I have a name for the person who wrote the document, so I’ll try and track her down.

Lets zoom out a bit… I bought a phone from Vodacom. I was never able to test or inspect a working model without buying it. It clearly failed twice in under 14 days. Do I really want to risk accepting back a phone with this track record?

I clearly explained the outcome I wanted based on the law – a very reasonable outcome in my mind. They clearly ignored me. Not very nice.

UPDATE Tuesday 17 Aug

After I mentioned this post to Twitter.. @Vodacom responded. They phoned me and explained the situation. Seems the staff in their shops will get more training on this topic soon.

They are going to arrange that the Vodacom shop I was dealing with take back the HTC and give me a Nokia E6. I have to pay the difference, but I’m happy to do that. I’m going there on Friday.

Yes, I realise that Symbian is a dead duck, but I’m happy to just stick with what I know while I ponder my options.

Good to see Vodacom’s social media customer services process is working.

UPDATE Friday 19 Aug

I returned the HTC box and cables today and fetched my new Nokia E6.

Happy again. Thanks Vodacom.

I’ll write a review for the E6 soon.

DMASA Muppets

There was a poll on the DMASA’s website this week. It read:

“The DMASA has been nominated as preferred supplier to the National Consumer Commission to manage the official Do Not Contact Database. Do you support this move by the NCC?”

I first looked at it yesterday morning. The results were: Yes=33% – No=66%

A few people mentioned the poll on Twitter.

Around mid-day I made a screenshot showing the results as: Yes=6% – No=94%

Then, magically, the poll got archived and the results changed to Yes=87% with a creative date range of 2011-07-19 to 2011-07-12.

I’d love to know what logic they used to “correct” the results. Creative ethics in that organisation.

Here is a log of the poll data over the day and another blog post on the topic.

NuMetro Muppets

Dear NuMetro Muppets

My daughter and I visited the NuMetro at the Waterfront this weekend. Your self-help kiosk user experience is uber lame. The rest is an email I sent to the manager of the branch:

Things to fix..

  • It should allow me to select a child movie ticket, yes, I get that people can game this but you need to come up with a solution. Surely the person at the door should be checking the tickets.
  • It should detect if it can’t talk to the credit card gateways and show that it’s offline.
  • If it can’t talk to the credit card gateway it should fail with “error” not “declined”.
  • Screensaver goes on while it’s busy processing transactions.
  • You probably want to sort the list of movies to exclude once-off shows, I have to scroll through 20 art movies to buy a usual movie ticket.
  • You probably want to print something if a transaction fails so the person has proof of the failed transaction.

This is not rocket science. Twice I’ve had a really bad experience using your self help kiosks. This is 2011, not 1996.

Multichoice DSTV evil empire of Muppets

I received a letter from Multichoice (Pty) Ltd’s lawyers today. A physical posted letter, to my street address. They seem to think I owe Multichoice R871.20 and their letter reads: “..your details will be listed on all major credit bureaus”. A convenient way of abusing the underbelly of personal information.

Now, the first thing I’m thinking is.. why are lawyers writing me a letter and not Multichoice? I think I’m a customer of Multichoice. Surely they should have made at least one attempt to communicate with me before running to lawyers. Do they value their customers so little? The lawyers managed to post me a letter. Does DSTV not understand how email or the postal system works? I guess that’s just how monopolies do business. It’s the evil empire way.

What I think happened:

We know DSTV have a monopoly on broadcasting Springbok Rugby. I figure it’s a good idea to get DSTV for the month of November 2010. Just the month of November. I get the DSTV decoder gizmo and connect it all up. I phone their call centre which points me at their website saying I can use their service on a month-to-month basis. I look at their website and see I can pay by credit card. No contracts or debit orders. Cool. So I pay for the month of November with my credit card. I watch 3 rugby games. Happy.

I honestly do not care about any of their other broadcasting. I don’t watch TV. I guess I could have just gone to a bar and watched the rugby there, but I have a 4yo daughter and she’s not that into bars. So I was stuck with the DSTV option.

Since my first (and only) interaction with their pretty buggy website, I’ve had zero communication from Multichoice. No invoices. No phone calls. No emails. Nothing.

Any rational human would have expected the service to end at the end of November.. the month I pre-paid for.

What I suspect the evil DSTV empire thinks happened:

A customer comes to our website and pre-pays for November. We think this implies a 3 month contract. We’ll let their service run for the month they paid for plus two months. Hmm.. yeah, two is a nice number. Not 1 or 3 or 24. Two is good. We don’t need to invoice them or let them know of this creative contract we cooked up.. that would just bother them with things they don’t need to know about. Oh, yeah and.. we don’t want any real contact with out customers so we’ll just automate things and involve lawyers because we don’t give a shit about the quality of relationships we maintain with our customers.

We rock! Evil is cool. Golf again this afternoon?

Enter the Customer Protection Act:

(yeah, I don’t like the word “consumer”)

What Multichoice and DSTV is doing should be illegal.. oh, turns out our legal system agrees: Enter the CPA

No, dear evil empire, you can’t just get creative and pick a number of months you assume an imaginary contract exists.

CONTRACTS

Ever been billed for that gym or cellphone contract you thought had expired?

Thanks to the new act, automatic contract renewals will be no more. Companies will have to contact you – in writing – between 40 and 80 business days before your contract expires. They have to give you the option to continue your contract, change its terms or cancel it.

Note that the contract will continue on a month-to-month basis until you make your choice.

You will also be able to cancel contracts at any time. No more waiting for the full 24 months to end. If you’re unhappy, give the company 20 days’ notice – in writing – and you’re home free.

I’d very much like Multichoice to show me the contract I signed and the invoices they sent me, or even a statement of my account. Any communication at all would be a good start.

Evil is in fact not cool.

UPDATE: 2011-03-04

DSTV phoned me. They are going to get their lawyers off my back. They confirmed their billing system should work on a month-to-month basis. Seems there is some snag in how they disconnect customers.. they can only disconnect 10k users per day. I’m guessing somebody made some lame assumption about how much data needed to be moved in a signalling band “why would you ever want to disconnect more than 10k people in a day?” Sounds like they will be looking into how this snag relates to the CPA. This is all well and good, but I feel sorry for all the people who have been affected and ended up in fights with DSTV’s dogs of automated debt collection.