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Consumer Affairs
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Vodacom idiot

The instructions from Vodacom about sending an SMS from your email account are incorrect. Perhaps you are not surprised; I wasn’t. But I thought I’d put the record straight if only to counteract the indifference of companies like Vodacom to its consumers, and save you the irritation of having to find out the correct information by trial and error – it could take days, months.

There is a service (useful if it is explained properly) whereby you are able to send an SMS from your computer to a Vodacom cellphone using your email program. Unfortunately the instructions from Vodacom under the heading: ‘Congratulations you have been successfully registered!’ are misleading.
The instructions are as follows (as sent by Vodacom, precise spelling and grammar):
To send a SMS from your email:
In your email program create a new email message
In the ‘TO’ field enter the recipients cellphone number followed by “@voda.co.za” eg 0821234567@voda.co.za
Type your message and send it
NB: Most people leave the Subject blank as it counts against the 140 character limit.

Well if you do this, what your recipient gets is a blank SMS with your email address at the bottom. Even if you put a title in the subject, which Vodacom suggests you don’t, all you get is the subject eg ‘Meeting today’, and again the email address, but no message.
I decided to dial 111 for Vodacom help, a cellphone number I deeply loathe because it always wastes such a great deal of more time.
Of course, you have to wade through those infernal voice prompts, until finally you are given the magic ‘press 0 at any time (not true) to speak to a consultant’. Unfortunately the consultant could not help me (as usual) and passed me on to ‘technical’ – which, by the way, I think you can now get hold of directly by dialling 082 1946. The person at technical was not able to help and transferred me to 082 155. I was then abandoned into another pool of voice prompts. So I dialled 111 again, finally got back to a consultant and repeated the problem for the third time. At least she was more helpful because she got me through to 082 155 and selected the right prompt for me. This is essentially a summary of what the technical assistant said:

Do not write anything in the message field; it cannot be processed via SMS.
Instead you must use the subject field for the message (and subject too if you want).
I pointed out that Vodacom’s instructions were completely misleading, and could he please escalate the issue and have the instructions correctly laid out. And, by the way, hopefully their English will be better: ‘A SMS’, should be ‘An SMS’, while ‘recipients cellphone’ should read “recipient’s cellphone”.

I had this issue lying around in the office since November, almost too frightened to pick up the phone, quite frankly, because of the time it would probably take. And indeed it did take me 55 minutes to get the correct information. I just hope some of you out there will actually find this article helpful and it will save you time (Pity the likes of Vodacom are disreputable and dishonest enough not to pay consulting fees to consumers who help them do their job properly).
Anyway, to summarise, this is what you are supposed to do:

Register first on Vodacom’s web site  to use the SMS email service;
Type the person’s cellphone number followed by @voda.co.za in the ‘To’ field.
Type the whole message (a maximum of 140 characters) in the SUBJECT FIELD
And click send.
I suggest you email the SMS to your own phone first to make sure it is working. I think you get three free SMSs a day, or something like that. I presume the other cellphone networks have a similar service.
Oh, and by the way, before calling 111, if you have a mind to, I suggest you set up a headset with your cellphone, then your hands are free to do something much more useful while you listen to a ghastly broadcast of ‘Africa’ by Toto. By Nigel Benetton

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:22.4 1st April, 2009
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