Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Consumer disobedience

I was in my final year of ‘varsity in 1986 (I know, by all calculations I should be dead!) and this was the height of political turmoil. South Africa was in a ‘state of emergency’, things were burning, people were in detention without trial, Adrian Vlok was in charge of education and ‘the quota system’ for universities, the ANC was a banned “communist” organisation, and we students were angry and active. But, being drama students at UCT’s Michaelis, and sharing the space with art students, resulted in us coming up with some interesting and effective (or at least we thought so at the time) civil disobedience campaigns. My favourite one, which I remember so clearly, was dragging red tape over all the toilet seats at CAPAB (now Artscape), with posters on the back walls explaining why people were being prevented from sitting down.

I was remembering this yesterday while I was trying to control myself from launching my body as a missile through the plate glass windows of MTN SP (SP stands for service provider. What a joke.) at Century City. I was there to fetch my piece of junk phone that I was coerced into taking as an upgrade when I had to blah blah blah a new contract in March this year. My phone broke, and although it had been fixed and was ready to collect on Monday, I was still ‘in the queue’ to be contacted, since they had such a ‘high volume’ of customers to get hold of. This is after me phoning about six times to find out if my phone was actually there. I didn’t want to make the unnecessary trip because you can wait for half a day in their ‘waiting’ section, after getting your damn number ticket at the door.

Needless to say, I had all the time in the world to think up a million, totally ineffective, things to say and do to somebody at MTN. But you never get to say and do it to the right person. They just don’t give you access to anyone. They stonewall you. They block you out. I hate MTN. Really. I do.

I resent the money they spend on advertising and branding and sponsorship while ripping us all off. I hate the fact that they are able to get away with the worst service, the most useless call centres, total inefficiency, false promises, and fake ‘deals’. I hate that it would cost me a preventative amount of money to cancel my renewed contract, and so they don’t even have to treat me like a human being. They have me by the short and curlies.

Now, I don’t want to break the law, I really am too old for that, but I would like to indulge in a consumer disobedience campaign against MTN. It will start here, on meganshead, and I am looking for ideas. I will continue slagging them off, writing to Hello Peter (I don’t even get a response any more) and complaining bitterly all over the show, but if any of you have any good ideas, please let me know.

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5 Comments

  1. Adam

    My strategy with dealing with them is to take a book with me, and drink their coffee. By the time they call me I tend to have forgotten that I am there.

  2. megan

    Sheesh Adam, that sounds like such a soft option. I was looking for something that, while being not against the law per se, is a little more hard core. PS. I usually take a book with me; for pleasure.

  3. Adam

    The wall doesn’t get headaches when I bash my head against it!

  4. megan

    goddit!

  5. Gerda

    Write different letters to all the newspapers – Afrikaans and English – stating the exact facts. Unemotionally, intellectually. Stay focused on the problem: i.e. too many people who need service, not enough staff, lack of feedback. The fact is, if we all just adjust to what is happening around us, and just accommodate everything, why would anybody in the service sector even dream to deliver a competent, well articulated service. You mentioned very important facts, e.g. branding, advertising etc. especially now with government taking an interest in cellphone fees. You seem like a reasonable person, but as frustrated as most South African consumers. Then one last thing: if every person who was ever frustrated because of bad service starts to deliver the best service possible, things might change.

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