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the computer support company

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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How to prevent a R40,000 (or more) mobile phone account

cellphone2Once again, a customer of ours  (a 71 year old man) “rang” up a cell phone account in excess of R 40,000. according to him, a Cell Phone company representative (a supposed “techie”) at one of their branches installed IOS 6.0 for his iPhone – a version that apparently had a glitch according to many web reports that ran up HUGE data usage accounts. Not only that, the consultant activated iCloud for him – not explaining the implications. As he soon ran into out-of-bundle rates, every time he took a photo or downloaded a song, or opened a mail containing a photo it cost him about R20 as he had multiple cloud services installed.

Thank goodness this incident occurred in South Africa or else this bill would have been 30x more – yes, it would have been a bill for R 2.4 million. This customer travels abroad on a regular basis, so this was completely possible.

Kondura Technologies CC advises that you exercise care when dealing with self-designated “expert” cell-phone friends as well as “experts” at cell phone shops or even so-called “authorized” cell-phone technicians.

The people are not necessarily experts because they happen to be in the store wearing the company logo. Many do not have any form of IT training and have no idea how a corporate Microsoft Exchange system works.

In addition, don’t ever allow cell-phone service provider “technicians” to come to your site or to work on any mail settings – without first speaking to your IT department /or IT service provider. We have had numerous incidents where a so-called “qualified” ISP technician tried to set up mail accounts on phones and they had absolutely no idea what they were doing or what the effect their settings have on the company network.

We have had several bad experiences with these people. Even something basic like installing Apple iTunes without understanding the implications of the profile already set up on the phone can result in mail corruption and services installed that incur excess data usages.

They over-write the exchange corporate settings on the phones and just wreak general havoc. Sadly this is more often the rule rather than the exception. Their simple call-out results in photo’s, mail accounts wiped and recommended “useful” apps installed that are not needed or do the same job as another app on the phone. For example – DropBox and iCloud and some gMail services all back up the same data.

Call an IT guy to do IT work. Cell phones are IT when used in a corporate environment.

cellphonesDISCLAIMER: We realize that part of the tone of this mail may be seen as a rant, but it frustrates us at how poor most cell-phone company service is. Not only that, it frustrates us when everyone claims to be an “IT expert” these days and when they do something that damages, loses data or incurs costs, they just shrug their shoulders, claim ignorance or blatantly lie – and our customer sits with the bill and we sit with fixing the damage. As an example, a computer company that lost three years of their customer’s (who we now service) work just said: “Sorry, I should’ve checked that. Live and Learn, hey? Hind-site is 20-20!”

We advise all customers contact their ISP (Vodacom, CellC, MTN, etc) with the following letter to limit and protect themselves from over-expenditure:

Firstly, do not allow your service provider to bully you when you request this. If they can monitor your usage, they can obviously set a “stop” on your account when it hits a certain limit. Don’t fall for the “We can’t do that” line.

Ironically, I e-mailed this request through twice (I made a spelling mistake) and got back TWO completely different responses. One consultant did it automatically – as I requested and as it should be.

A few minutes later, however, a different consultant demanded that I fill in a form for each individual number. If the consultant gives you a hard time after sending this letter, make a noise – a loud one – first, get their name and demand to get the e-mail for their PR department as well as the head of their corporate department. Contact them. Remain calm, but be forceful. Use e-mail to correspond. Keep track of all conversations. Take full names, contact numbers and job description of everyone you manage to get hold of. Don’t bother trying to phone – most cell companies have such poor service that you will be transferred from pillar to post. Wait for them to contact you via phone.

If you get no joy with e-mails – do this: Post on their official Facebook page – preferably make a comment under a link that has a few thousand comments already so that more people see your comment – You usually almost always get a response when you do this. There is no excuse for poor service. If you try to post it in the main page, it will usually get no exposure – post under a comment. Remain calm and don’t curse.

The letter below is a legal request. The onus is on them to do as you say, not to give you a hard time. They must do the necessary steps to fulfill your request. This is what service is all about. 

<SAMPLE LETTER START>

COMPANY NAME – as it appears on your cell-phone statement

VODACOM BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION vbs.admin@vodacom.co.za

Re:- Request to enable data bundle cap on all COMPANY NAME cell phone contracts

I, YOUR NAME, owner of COMPANY NAME, hereby request you to enable a “cap” on ALL of my data bundle services on ALL the cell phone and data contracts in my business name.

I do not wish to cancel my services, but once they have used up their allocated data bundles, I request that the data service temporarily be deactivated on that particular account until the following month to avoid any and all “out-of-bundle” costs. If there is no data bundle service active on a particular account, I request that ALL data access is disabled on that account. I do not ever want to be billed at “out of bundle” rates. Please ensure that I do not. The contracts I wish this done on currently include the following:

082 999 9999 <- Your number here – list more numbers / accounts if required on a separate line

In addition, please set a total account “spend” cap of R1,000 (including VAT) on the following accounts:

082 999 9999 <- Your number here.

Please see my South African identity document attached.

E & EO. Please feel free to contact us with any queries or to discuss any of the contents above.

Kind Regards,

>signature<

YOUR NAME <- You must be the person authorized to make changes to this account. COMPANY NAME

<END OF LETTER>

Additional Notes:

  1. Attach a copy of your Identity Document.
  2. We recommend that personal individuals can write this letter too – just remove the bits about the COMPANY name.
  3. This letter must appear on your company letterhead.
  4. Adjust the spend value to what suits you – remember that this includes phone calls and all services, so I recommend that you make the limit your average amount you pay for that account plus about 20% extra.
  5. I have used Vodacom’s details as a sample – if someone could post me the other ISP’s corporate service request numbers, this will be appreciated – info@kondura.co.za

Other Tips:

  1. Always switch off mobile data and data roaming capabilities when you travel abroad – only use WiFi when abroad. Ask your computer IT service provider for advice if you are unsure.
  2. Better still – buy a pay-as-you-go sim card with a new number to temporarily use when abroad
  3. Remember that when people phone you overseas, YOU pay for the call. It starts at R60.
  4. One megabyte in “out-of-bundle” rates is R2 in South Africa. It’s R60~R80 when overseas.
  5. Don’t ever allow anyone (like a ISP technician) to work on your notebook if it connects to a company network – there is no guarantee that they won’t infect it with a virus.
  6. The “latest” software update is not always the best thing. Most IT companies wait a few months to check on whether a “fix” is beneficial or not.
  7. Advise your IT company BEFORE you take your phone overseas.
  8. To avoid high cell phone accounts, ALWAYS choose contracts with a “per second” billing vs a “per minute” billing”

PLEASE SHARE THIS ARTICLE with anyone who owns a smartphone or any company that pays for their staff mobile accounts accounts that you may know.