Dear MTN

We started seeing each other a little bit over a year ago, when things between me and Vodacom started feeling a bit stale.

We didn’t get off to the best possible start. There was that thing where I ordered my new phone from you in the colour you promised me I could have and you then delivered me one in the colour I definitely DIDN’T want. Then I had to spend my own time and money chasing you to take it back, and then I had to chase you some more only to find out in the end that you could not, in fact, supply me with the phone I wanted.  I could’ve broken up with you then and walked away without having invested too much in the relationship but you wooed me back with the promise of something even better, at only a fraction more, and I stayed.

All in all, I can’t complain too loudly about the way things have been since then. I pay a reasonable price for a decent phone and have the freedom to top up as I need to. The device works and I rarely have major signal issues. Except sometimes when my husband tries to call me and nothing happens. It’s been a while since it last happened but I never did get around to asking you: What’s up with that? No biggie at the moment but, you know, this is the one human being on this planet whose calls I never reject and for whom it is actually important to reach me. What if it’s something urgent? What if something’s happened to one of our kids or to him and he needs to talk to me but MTN somehow isn’t getting the message across to my phone to fucking ring already!??! Just a little something you might want to think about…

Otherwise, my gripes are mainly trivial, really. You know, like when you debit my account 3 days before the specified debit date and I haven’t been paid yet? Did I ever mention how I love it when my credit rating takes a dive? No? Oh, yes. That must be because I FUCKING DON’T!

You couldn’t possibly know this, so I’ll tell you, I have a large family. We live in a rented house East of Central Johannesburg and, while it works for the moment, we actually have plans to move sometime in the next 2 to 3 years. Yes, really. It’s probably got a bit to do with how people get shot around here quite a lot. Like the other day, when some guys tried to rob a cigarette truck across the road from our house and one of them got shot in our driveway.  I guess it could have been worse, though, right? I mean, aside from not being able to get into my house for most of the day and the fact that bullets flying all over the place is not exactly conducive to a safe and happy family environment, y’know?

So, do you think that maybe I’d like to be able to maintain a healthy credit rating, in order to be able to secure a home loan when the time comes? Yes, I think I would. That would be grand, if it’s not too much trouble. ‘Cause, you see, I’ve kind of had to give up the idea that I’m going to win the lottery anytime soon, which means I’m not about to waltz into my dream home unless I follow the yellow brick home loan road to Kansas like everyone else does.

Speaking of winning – I was most impressed with that Win A Plane promotion you put on last year. Man, what a prize!

Here’s another little something you might not know about me but I’m quite the competition whore. No, really, I am. Okay, I’ve had to tone it down a whole lot this year but if you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you that I have won quite a lot of cool stuff over the years.  A couple of iPads, a couple of phones, some cash, some pampering and other experiences… It’s been pretty sweet. Because I ENTER so many competitions. And man, was I keen to enter that particular one!

So you can imagine my disappointment when, upon enquiring, I was informed by your social media team that I didn’t qualify to enter your Win A Plane (or a Million Rand) competition. Now, with a prize that big, I can understand that you may not have wanted to give the thing away for Mahala. (See what I did there? *wink, wink*) I mean, I can undertand that you’d want to see some brand engagement happening, before you just gave away an aeroplane! Jeez!

But what I couldn’t understand was why, when I pay you just shy of 400 bucks a month, every month, PLUS another hundred or two for top-ups, I was disqualified from entering when, at the same time, any Tom, Dick and fucking Harry who bought a pissy little R25 pre-paid recharge got an entry into the draw?! But in order for ME to qualify, I would have had to upgrade my contract to one that would cost me MORE THAN DOUBLE – roughly TRIPLE, in fact – my current monthly fee. How is that even vaguely fair or justifiable?

And even then, MTN, I didn’t throw my toys or cause a public scene. I went back to entering the competitions I could actually enter and winning the odd prize here and there. Nothing so grand or magnificent as an aeroplane, mind you, but still. I told myself that some lucky citizen of Mzansi was going to have one hell of a good day when that draw happened, whether they opted for the ‘plane or the cash. I figured, maybe this was the universe telling me to back off of this one and accept that it was meant for someone whose life would be well and truly transformed by the win. And I truly hope that it was and it did…

I could get over my misgivings and, yes, the sour grapes. I could do it because I know better than most that you can’t win them all.

That doesn’t stop me from still entering competitions, though. Not nearly as many as I was entering not that long ago but I still give it a bash every now and then. Like this latest promotion you’ve got going – the one where you receive and SMS prompt to SMS the word “FREE” to a designated number and get entries into a draw for a Samsung smartphone? Yup. I’ve got a good couple of thousand points in that game and am keen to see whether I’m lucky on this one.

But, once again, I’m disappointed to have to tell you, MTN, that I’m not sure you’ve thought out this whole promotion all that well.  Because, apart from the fact that YOU decide when my entries occur, by sending me those SMS prompts, I find myself also being bombarded with prompts to subscribe to a paid service that I have zero interest in. Not once, not twice but EVERY SINGLE TIME that I respond to one of your competition prompts. Really? Can’t you just accept that I DON’T WANT TO SUBSCRIBE?  I get that you’re trying to sell stuff here and make money. I get that, once again, you don’t want to be handing out cool, valuable products for nothing, that you’re trying to create engagement with your customers or whatever. But once again, I feel it is my duty to point out where you’ve lost the plot: You are not going to retain customers’ loyalty by forcing crap on them that they don’t want, in exchange for a competition prize.

If you want to make money out of a competition/prize promotion, then just tell people upfront how much money you want them to spend in order to qualify. Then you draw a qualifying client’s name out of a hat and BOOM! You’ve sufficiently fleeced a customer while making him/her a winner, no-one’s been inundated with bullshit subscription schemes and everyone’s happy.

And I guess that’s really what we’re all going for here, isn’t it? To be happy? Which is why, on having reflected during those instances of annoyance and/or disappointment, and over the writing of these 1375 words and some, I’ve decided to file for a divorce. It’s not me, it’s you. You simply don’t make me happy. So, come January 2016, when my dues are paid and the current contract period lapses, I’ll be making my move on over back to Vodacom.

 

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