More cell trouble at Pinelands store

A second complaint about the Vodashop store in Pinelands’ Howard Centre has come to light only weeks after another matter had been resolved.

Pinelands father Steve Thomas, who read an article in the Tatler about a resident allegedly being fleeced by a former Vodashop consultant (“Cellphone scamster in court,” Tatler, August 18), approached the newspaper last week, saying he had had no joy after complaining months ago about a repair issue.

“In March this year, I had my contracts and associated dealings carried over from Altech Autopage to Vodacom, as the former had sold off their cellphone arm. I had been with Autopage since their inception,” Mr Thomas said.

“We received various messages and mails from Autopage concerning the migration. As I live in Pinelands, I chose to work through the Vodacom store there.”

He said the only phone he still had covered by an Altech insurance policy was his youngest daughter’s Samsung S4 Mini. As a result, he presumed the coverage would be extended under Vodacom with the same terms as he had enjoyed under Altech.

“I was fairly certain that a contract cannot be altered to the customer’s detriment during a contract term, and my insurance with Altech covered the phone. But Murphy being who he is, the phone screen was damaged in April. Although my daughter wasn’t using it at the time, I still wanted to get it fixed.”

Mr Thomas then approached a consultant he identified as “Gary” at the Vodashop in Pinelands and handed in the unit with proof of his Autopage contract.

“I was a bit surprised when I was told there was no need to sign any paperwork or fill out a form, but being a busy guy I didn’t really give it another thought. I followed up with the store during the following few weeks but was told they were waiting on a quote.

“Then on May 17, I received an SMS informing me that the estimate for repairs had been declined. I followed this up with Vodacom Tyger Valley as the Pinelands store had closed for refurbishment.

“I was informed that I hadn’t responded to the repair estimate. I never received that estimate, and I explained this to the Tyger Valley folk. No real interest was forthcoming from them, and so I posted a poor service report on (consumer complaints forum) Hello Peter. Needless to say, I was immediately contacted by Vodacom who promised to sort it out.”

Mr Thomas said a slew of emails and phone calls followed. However, he was told that because his daughter’s SIM card had not been in the phone for several months, Vodacom’s insurance arm, Cellsure, had refused to repair the unit.

“I pointed out to the Vodacom person that having the SIM in the phone to validate an insured claim had never been a condition imposed on me by Autopage. But they weren’t interested, and so I immediately cancelled the cover.

“I then contacted Vodacom head office and I had to really threaten them to get any kind of response. I was subsequently contacted by a Mansoer Barnes who promised to take up the issue. That was nearly nine weeks ago, and since then we have had a backwards and forwards with no resolution. It’s obvious that they either don’t have the unit or they are dragging this out in the hope I will give up and go away.”

In the first incident reported to the Tatler, Pinelands resident Evalina van Wijk claimed she had been conned into handing over her contract phone to a former Vodashop employee, who then allegedly made off with the unit.

The man was later arrested and has subsequently appeared in court.

However, Ms Van Wijk complained that Vodacom was distancing itself from the incident, claiming that the man was no longer an employee.

But after being approached by the Tatler, network representatives “apologised for the inconvenience” and offered to replace Ms Van Wijk’s phone. Repeated efforts to obtain comment from Vodacom about Mr Thomas’s complaint have so far come to nought.