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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Saturday, October 28, 2006

MTN; Kicking the customer in the teeth

Last Sunday during that insanely long weekend my phone was stolen. I took my daughter into NU Metro at the Silver bird galleria to buy a book. I sit on the floor in the kids section reading with her, she wants another book, l get up and pick it from the top self, pick up my bag and go to the till. On the way out l tried to store a number and voila my phone had disappeared. The emotions, disbelief, panic, anger, numbness and acceptance took two hours. This is only the second time it would happen to me, actually, it is the first the other time, and my makeup artist and friend Bayo had had the phone with him at a party where it was nicked.


When your phone is stolen you feel violated, then handicapped like you’d lost a limb. For me there were over four thousand numbers on my PDA phone. My work is about contact. So my phone is gone but if l get my number back at least people can reach me but it was not to be that easy. First Monday and Tuesday were public holiday never known a bigger bum of a nation. I have no numbers or phone so l called my assistant who called someone in MTN who gave us a number to call to block it. l was put on automated hold for 36mimuntes before my fuzzy brain assimilated that customer care was on holiday! First working day of the week, my assistant Funmi called same guy who had by now got the number blocked and he tells her to buy a new SIM card and call a number and within 48, 48, l repeat 48 hours they will SIM swap. So am to wait 2 more days loosing work and my mind? Come Friday 48 hours later Funmi calls customer care and the rudest bitch ever to be spewed out of a vagina abuses her. She calls back the original MTN guy and he tells her she has to go get an affidavit and take it to a friendship centre to activate the number. This on a Friday evening!

Since the inception of GSM telephony, l have held that line resisting movement to any other network, even when l was given a subsidized media gift line by a competing network, l gave it away. I spend at least 30,000 naira a month on that MTN line and six days after my phone was stolen MTN cannot replace it, their customer care people abuse me and my people and l am cut from the world as l know it until Monday, that is if l get it on Monday.

Everyone says it that MTN has become a monster; l didn’t see it until the monster bit me. The thing with monsters is they become dinosaurs and eventually museum pieces for people to gawk at and make movies about. I have sent for a new line from a competing network, it is not my nature to lie down and take it.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've experienced similar rudeness but the culprit was the cashier at Intercontinental Bank. I withdrew some money, then I asked the lady if she can please give me envelope as i don't want the money on display. She snapped at me and said 'no be handbag you dey carry so, abeg comot make i attend to other customers'!

I mean, the hair on her head won't fall off if she gives me the envelop.
What happened to customer care and consumer being the king? I really don't understand.

That said, hope you get the number and phone sorted out.

PS: I really like your blog, will definately be coming back.

Jeremy said...

Its become too easy to hate MTN. How come they are the only GSM company that cannot make a prepaid card that is easy to scratch? How come its so difficult to get through to their call centre? How come they have been so non-innovative in their service offering? How come their advertising is abyssmal? We should set up: www.ihatemtn.com

Meanwhile, I've switched to Celtel!

Gbeborun Of Lagos said...

This has been the plight of many MTN subscribers. I'm Kinda glad this happened to you (LOL,) since you have a voice maybe, just maybe some person(s) in MTN will take this issue up. MTN is not alone on this. The saying 'customer is King' doesn't hold so much water in 9ja. It took me 4 days to collect money transfered to me from the UK thru First Inland Bank. Excuse - Their network was down. The First Inland Bank Slogan is 'You're welcome' I suggest the word 'welcome' should be redefined for First Inland Bank's case.

Anonymous said...

Hey, dear Funmi it happens every other day to lots and lots of people. It just happened to you so now you know shit works in every other sector in the country. I truly hate to say this but was it because you were so angered you had to throw caution to the winds and decided to get that vulgar? Hey that was just too much for the lady who also decided to be arrogant instead.
Your blog is truly a big source of communication and am not saying I dont abuse but remember its Funmi's blog.
Anyway dont mind MTN they do that almost every other day. I've been a victim too.
Keep the fire burning.

cutie said...

Funmi, I'm really laughing at u. Do u know why? ok I'll tell u. I watched newdawn the day MTN stormed ur show to talk about their nine new special packages and all its wonders. Anyway, prior to that time, i've been on extra cool(I'm still there), and I can liken it to the Devil's gift (with the exception of the 5 naira txt). U can imagine after being awake at 12:30am to make free calls, I find out that at 1:30am, I've not been able to get thru to anybody, not because the user is busy but because MTN would not connect me. When they finally do, I find out it is the most frustrating call I've ever made because the line keeps breaking and all I keep shouting is "hello, are u still there", to be sure I've not lost my caller. While still hanging on, I get to that point where MTN finally decides I've spoken enough and without warning, cuts me off. All effort to reconnect more often than not proves abortive. I think the glo version of the midnight call is better, even though I don't have a glo line, I often use my sister's own and the difference is clear; the lines are clear (even better than their daytime service) and nobody cuts u off unceremoniously. Anyway I don't have to complain because "MTN...your best connection"

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ confession/gbeborun. Na wah o. Got a receipt for a new mobile phone in front of me right now that has no warranty, no exchange, no refund stamped in giant font on it..why do we pay for such shabby services?
@ Jeremy. you know, it is so easy to bring corporate behemoths like MTN to their knees, they need us but like everything else in Nigeria we cannot seem to organize to stop them crapping all over us. Love the idea of ihatemtn site, just love how it rolls on the tongue
@cutie. lol at myself at the memory of that episode. l think my experience is pay back for buying that bull.
@anonymous. vagina is the anatomically correct word for the female private part, every other word is a slur. l always refer to it as vagina as that is what it is. Was the said woman not a bitch in snarling like a dog? Was she not birthed through a vagina? l rest my case. (-:. ok ok l,ll take the swearing back but hey l get enough censorship on NTA to last 100 lifetimes. l shall not be censored here o.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ confession/gbeborun. Na wah o. Got a receipt for a new mobile phone in front of me right now that has no warranty, no exchange, no refund stamped in giant font on it..why do we pay for such shabby services?
@ Jeremy. you know, it is so easy to bring corporate behemoths like MTN to their knees, they need us but like everything else in Nigeria we cannot seem to organize to stop them crapping all over us. Love the idea of ihatemtn site, just love how it rolls on the tongue
@cutie. lol at myself at the memory of that episode. l think my experience is pay back for buying that bull.
@anonymous. vagina is the anatomically correct word for the female private part, every other word is a slur. l always refer to it as vagina as that is what it is. Was the said woman not a bitch in snarling like a dog? Was she not birthed through a vagina? l rest my case. (-:. ok ok l,ll take the swearing back but hey l get enough censorship on NTA to last 100 lifetimes. l shall not be censored here o.

Anonymous said...

@jeremy. i support u in that. we do need a website to lay our complaints. but remember, mtn is not the first, and would definitely not be the last(i wish 'they' prove me wrong). so why dont we have this www.fuckedservices.com? or as our most honourable put it profoundly (watch ur mouth), www.wackservices.com hmm?

Anonymous said...

why does one need an affidavit before you can get a replacement simcard?

and nigerians are notoriously poor at customer services. we just don't get the concept of the customer being king at all.

and mtn has sadly gone from the leading network to the pits. shame.

@ anonymous: whats wrong with saying vagina? its an anatomically correct term and in the context that it was used it was not rude or obscene at all. funmi could have said "rudest person ever born" and it would have meant the same thing; all she did was express herself in her own style, using non-vulgar, everyday words. people accept the use of "penis" all the time, so why shouda "vagina" be a word of taboo? puritanism and censorship for its own sake really gets on my nerves.

Lifted said...

i enjoyed one of your episodes on Being "fat" or "Slim". I belive we all have our yardsticks, but what is important is to keep an healthy body,soul & spirit.We should continually boost our self image or worth and refuse to be pulled down by a friend or fiend.I think girls should discover the outfits that look good on them. We all have weaknesses and strengh, so advise we build our strenght more. Thanks for sharing your webspace.
Enjoy

Lifted said...

The aviation minister went way off line by casting the blame o the crash on the pilot of the illfated ADC plane. Although i think our pilots should try to fly(especially take off or landing) in stable weather conditions.Its sucidal to overlook thunderstorm at the time of takeoff. May the souls of the victims rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Its your show here girl use it the way you wish and I rest mine here too {:- Funny aight?}. keep the fire buning. You are doing great.

tinyjiro said...

Reading the last sentence in the first paragraph tells me you are a self centered person.

Self centered people never see anything as their fault and are quick to point out other people's faults. U didn’t loose your phone the first time, some else did

Unfortunately, some MTN people might be running around now to assuage you, not withstanding the fact that you are just throwing a tantrum.

You were put on hold for 36 minutes? Big deal! As one of 10.5 million MTN subscribers, who have access to the Call Centre 24/7, what did you expect? Express attention?

Did you know that buying a SIM pack of the streets and getting a reactivation within 48 hours is just an option not the ONLY way to do a SIM swap? Obviously, you (and/or your efficient assistant) weren’t aware of that the MTN Connectshop at the Palms was open during the holidays? There, you would have had your line back in minutes.

News for you, at N30, 000/month, you do not even enter the category of MTN high end users.

The law of averages say that if 2 out of every 5 active numbers you have on your phone is an MTN subscriber, then chances are 2 out of every good/bad GSM customer experience you hear about will come from an MTN subscriber. The customer is king no doubt; however, only self respecting, non-tantrum throwing customers can be king.

A subscriber makes up his mind the kind of GSM operator he/she wants to be with, operators likewise have an idea what type of customers they want on their networks. With your attitude, don't be so sure you fit MTN's profile.

Anonymous said...

@ tinygiro: clearly an mtn staffer or apologist.

i notice you didn't address the issue of rude staff, nor did you attempt to profer an explanation for the customer being put on hold for over half and hour, other then to berate the customer for complaining. that, as i see it is the crux of the problem, blaming other people for our own shortcomings rather than fixing said inadequacies.

actually, i just read your comment again; its wide of the point by a country mile. the point is: why was the service so bad, why was the service so bad, and why was the service so bad.
offering up statistics does not address the fact that the customer was left displeased by the service that she received.

it should not matter whether funmi spends 30Naira a month or 30million Naira, the company should treat each subscriber like they have a choice, and being served by them is a privilege.

and the condescending tone of your reply sums it up. you have no clue what it really means to be efficiently served, and so you could never offer a good service to anyone. you sound like you don't think funmi has a right to complain; have you thought that it is the network's responsibility to let the public know when their service centres are located, and what opening hours are? if the public doesnt know, then someone has botched their job big time.

read the comments, and recognise what they represent: that mtn's service is unsatisfactory. and please don't reply by saying that its comparable to the standard offered by the other networks, because that would not be the point either.

funmi, i have hijacked your blog here, and i apologise; but some people just don't have a clue.

Calabar Gal said...

Funmi, So sorry about losing ur fone and the attendant trauma that came with trying to retrieve ur number. I hope you were able to retrieve it in the end?

I cant believe you are blogging and not anonymously too. You are one lady who courts controversy but I love ur blog so far.

Anonymous said...

Mr tinyjiro isnt an MTN staff neither is he an apologist who will be an apologist to a service that takes more from you than theu offer,anyway mr tiny is just looking for a JOB thats the koko ;no long thing .fanny kayode did it and it paid off now abi u dont know he is now the minister of avaiation after defending the president even to his mental deprement oh! did i just say that

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ olawunmi, thanks, l couldnt have said that better myself. One thing l,ve learnt on my job is never to engage the irrational, the unbalanced or resentful.

@ calabar girl, it has never ceased to amaze me that being true to yourself and saying your mind as it is, is intepreted as courting controversy. Fame is a by product of my job, a rather irritating one because l actually prefer solitude and smaller nurturing human grouping. In person l am insular and tend to be quiet but the things that enage me or that l engage fire me. Nigeria in her tendency to repress free human spirit, thought and actions provide many impectus for engagement or interventions as Wole Soyinka would say. That is what is usually misconcrued as being controversial.

Anonymous said...

@ Funmi,

MTN is really doing a good job if you ask me...

Trying to meet their customer's needs. Customers can be pretty difficult you know..

Products can be deffective but...

Anonymous said...

Guess for some of us dat will never catch you on TV (banking no gree), not a bad idea hooking up to your blog.
I support the www.ihatemtn.com idea, though I use Celtel, my wifey uses MTN and her complaints list are endless. Jeremy asked why it's so difficult to scratch an MTN card? Well, cos Baba no let them go print am for SA. Afterall, WAEC & JAMB cards, starcomms and all these them Acada cards are made here in 9ja by a friend I know.
MTN's just not it. Tank goodness they've got enuff competition to last a lifetime.
For MTn users though, make una dey pack sand about o!!! (dats they only way to scratch dem cards).