Lets face it - we live in a Beta culture where we are used to things not working, and we have almost become content with it. No matter what advertising tells us, the gadgets we use are designed to have a functional life of only a few years, after which we will inevitably replace it. Sometime however, duds fall into the production line of modern devices, and then we as buyers have to go through the entire process of getting a replacement unit. The fact of the matter is that it should be as much effort as it is.

Recently my iPhone 3GS has started to show some weird symptoms - the phone would suddenly become slow, after which it will become very warm to touch. After becoming unresponsive I had to reboot the phone, only to realise that it only reboots after around ten reboots. Something was clearly wrong. So then I did the recommended full restore of the phone, which made the phone work for another day. However, its music library did not index its files, and again, the phone overheated and froze up.

So Saturday 24 October I took the phone to Vodacare Canal Walk, and they booked the phone in. They checked for marks and damage (there was luckily absolutely none) and gave me my job number. Here is my first problem - I had a Invisible Shield on the phone (which costs around R200 at Vodashops) and obviously I cannot remove the film on the device. They said they will reimburse me for the film - but I have a feeling they wont hold up their end of the deal. Their policy is to return / replace the phone within 7 workdays. They also had no loaner phones.

After a technician looked at the phone, I got an SMS on Monday 26 October to tell me the phone is being sent to Vodacom head office. Since then I have not heard anything. Nothing. I had to phone them to enquire what is going on today, and they had not ETA for when my phone will be back. They could not confirm that the phone is being replaced - in fact they did not know what is going on with my phone, or where it is in their system. If I buy a very expensive phone on which I rely every day, I expect Vodacom to at least communicate to me where the phone is, and know what is happening with the phone.

The reason why I am writing this post is that I believe we deserve better service. In the rest of the world, iPhones get replaced on the spot, no questions asked. No reason to send it away, no possible repair. As someone who spends a lot of money with Vodacom, I believe the way they handle these iPhone repairs are poor. Part of the reason people pay more for Apple products is the improved after sales service. Once again, this is only true outside of South Africa.

Update: I posted this on HelloPeter as well. So far Vodacom has replied with a generic "thanks for your feedback" message. Lets see if they come back to me.

Update 4 Nov: Today I got an SMS from Vodacom telling me the phone has been repaired and is back at Vodacare Canal Walk. I phoned them asking what they repaired - they said they updated the software. Just to clarify - the phone was running the latest software when I sent it in. I also explicitly asked Vodacare to contact me when a technician has the phone - I wanted to explain to him that a firmware restore works, but the phone stops functioning a while later. Needless to say, they did NOT phone me, and simply did a firmware restore (just like I did) and sent it back.

I will now have to pick up the phone again, and if I have the same problem send it again. Then I will have to wait another ten days for another repaired/replacement phone.

Vodacom - you clearly do not have support structures in place for the iPhone. If you have to send a iPhone up to head office, just to do a software update (which I have done already), you might want to look at getting better technicians.
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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.