Qaanita Salie of Mitchell’s Plain bought a Hisense cellphone for her father’s 70th birthday from Mr Price Mobile.
“The phone broke before it was two months old. It wouldn’t switch on so I took it back to the store. Two weeks went by and I didn’t hear from Mr Price Mobile but when I went there, the techs said someone tried to open the phone.
“After I posted my complaint on Hello Peter the regional manager was supposed to contact me. Instead they called my husband and claimed that the phone was corroded, this after I asked them to give me proof that someone tampered with the phone. Now I have a handset that doesn’t work and Mr Price Mobile wants me to collect it,” Ms Salie said.
Ms Salie is not getting another phone.
Mr Price said: “Our process requires a full assessment before any charge is levied. We would never take payment for an assessment upfront because we need to examine the phone to understand if the fault is with the manufacturer or the customer.
“An independent assessment centre said it is impossible for a new phone to have liquid damage and, according to them, the phone was exposed to liquid, voiding the warranty, and they emailed a copy of the report to Ms Salie.
“We do comply with the CPA but we cannot be expected to compensate Ms Salie as the damage amounts to negligence,” Mr Price said.
Stacey-Lee Pienaar of Steenberg had more luck with Mr Price Mobile than Ms Salie did. But at the time it was easier to find a hen with teeth than getting an answer from Mr Price.
When Ms Pienaar signed up with Mr Price Mobile she thought she got a good deal. But the cliché if it’s too good to be true it usually is, applied in this case.
It appears the sales consultant mis-sold the contract and withheld vital information.
Mr Price’s head of communications, Kerry-Lynn Weller, didn’t reply to my first email and when I sent another one she replied that she had been ill and would ask Bridget de Beer to handle it. She didn’t.
Ms Pienaar said she received a call from one of Mr Price’s sales consultants offering her a contract, claiming among other things the handset had an 8G on board memory so she would be able to download all her apps, get 100 minutes airtime, 100mb data and 50 SMSes for R149 a month.
“The device comes with 8G memory but 4G goes to the phone’s system. Which means there is insufficient storage space and they did not tell me this when they offered me the contract. I can’t move the apps to my SD (secure digital) card, for one.
“I received an SMS telling me that I will be debited for R196.46. When I called the customer care line I was told that according to the contract if I make my last call with whatever is left of the R100 I will be billed for this. I have to monitor my calls so I set a limit of R1.50. Even so I am saddled with an unexpected R47.46 and it was during this call that I was made aware of the storage problem with the phone,” said Ms Pienaar who also asked for a recording of the conversation which Mr Price sent. But she couldn’t play it as she didn’t have the correct app.
“When I complained the agent said she couldn’t do anything as it was in the contract. That may be but the agent misled me just to make a sale.
“Now I am tied into a 24-month contract. I work hard for my salary and cannot afford to throw money away like this. Of all the network providers, I chose a contract with Mr Price Mobile because I really thought they gave me the best option. Please help.”
A few days after I contacted Mr Price, Ms Pienaar confirmed that they cancelled the contract and collected the device. “Thank you for your assistance.”
But there was no explanation from Mr Price, although Ms Weller told me their PR company, which she did not name, would give feedback.
Although the public relations consultancy who apparently no longer had Mr Price in their stable, sent a reply, which to put it bluntly was nonsense.
“Our customer experience executive has been in contact with the customer, and this complaint has been resolved. The complaint arose out of a confusion between the total amount of storage available on the device, of which half is required to run the operating system,” Mr Price said.