The year 2008 saw my using the then Ghana Telecoms Broadband wireless for three years. The wireless service was my lifeline to the outside world for voice and data. December 2008 and all of a sudden my internet stopped working. I contacted Ghana Telecom and was told that the service was being discontinued.
WHAT?!!! Just like that, servers had been turned off and the wireless service disconnected and with not a single word to me. No one had called to inform us of this, not a single flyer had been seen when we went to pay our bill at the Care 4u centre and they could not have picked a worse time to do this.
December of 2008, I lost my grandfather and wanting to plan his funeral within a space of a month, it was imperative that I contact family outside to inform them of the passing and to make arrangements for them to either make donations or show up for the burial. An easy thing to do when you have a skype phone with paid subscription, no? Definitely not when your internet is switched off and you cannot access skype. So I called to complain. I was informed that all customers who were on the wireless service were to visit the Care4u centres to pick up GPRS Modems. These were supposed to be a temporary internet service for us cherished customers until they brought in another wireless service. It took weeks of calling and visiting the centre and complaining before I was given a GPRS modem which FAILED. It was extremely slow, kept failing to dial up, and yet, all the same, in the space of 5 days the 80 cedis allocated to me was gone.
Of course, I called to complain and demanded to talk to someone in charge. The care provider I spoke to was trying to hedge, telling me I should simply come in and pay for a top up. I said to her, ” What the hell makes you people think that after paying 65 cedis a month for internet, that ANYONE would be interested in a service that would waste 80 in 5 days?!!!” I went on to (and quite forcefully too) inform her of the fact that I’d not been informed of this, that I’d been led to believe this GPRS modem was going to function just as my old service had and that I was extremely unhappy with the fact that I could not keep all three of my machines online at once.
After her shedding tears and still refusing to let me speak to her supervisor, I called once more and expressed my displeasure, making it clear that I was not alone in my then distaste for their service and that I was going to call up the radio stations and write a scathing review to the editors of several newspapers. I also threatened to sue, and made sure the agent was aware that if I was to do so, several of my equally disgruntled friends would follow suit. Just like that and I was on the phone with the area manager that I’d been chasing about for weeks. Within a week, we had a landline installed (in an area where we’d been told they’d run out of numbers and the reason why we went with the wireless service in the first place) two weeks later we had internet. Just in time for me to call up my brothers and tell them how beautiful and befitting a burial the Ghana Veterans Association had given Grandad. Way to go GT……
So now I have a landline and I have a broadband4u residential package. I pay 65 cedis a month for what they tell me is 256kb/s but I know it is shared and no matter how many computers I have connected at a time, I run at less than 100kb/s. (We know how to run speed tests people!!!! we can check these things!) So, lousy speeds, poor customer service, I was oh so ready to go to ZAIN. What stopped me? The fact that with Ghana Telecom, I had UNLIMITED service. NO matter how slow it was, if I could still download my movies. I was willing to forgive them if I could keep my desktop on all day connected to the skype phone so I could make and receive calls to the USA. ZAIN offers faster speeds (up to 7.2mb/s and caps at 8GB. At least this was true when I spoke to them last) and their wireless routers can connect to up to 34 computers. I simply figured, I don’t have 34 computers, I already own 3 wireless devices, 2 of which are Professional access points and allow me to better protect my wireless networks…perhaps I should stay put and see how things go.
By this time it was clear that Vodafone was here to stay and I thought that the service might get a bit better. Sure, I was still losing my connection from time to time but I was still able to read my online comics and join my friends in the UK and other countries for a game of Age of Empires 3. Rushing home from work on Monday nights to join my Brains Required group on IMVU for our weekly Topic Night meant hours online talking about this current topic and that and paying witness to views from around the world. I thought it was simply wonderful.
I should have known that it was too good to be true. Even though the customer care agents seem smarter and make it a point to try to appease clients, it seems to me that the PR department is still in need of a makover. Why, you ask?
Because Vodafone (in this case vodafail) has done it again. They have decided to go ahead and introduce a tariff plan without informing their clients. I heard about the introduction of their plans through a Facebook Group. No flyers were handed out. No care representative spoke to me when I went to pay my bill for the month. No one called my house, passed by and there’s nothing in my post office box to inform me of such an exercise. Just as the time the wireless service was turned off, I had once again been left out of the loop of people to be informed about changes to a service I had been paying for. Same company, different name. It seems to me that NOTHING has changed.
Vodafone is offering it’s Residential Broadband4u users 512kb/s speed at 65 cedis a month with a 10GB cap. Upon expending your allotted 10GB, you will be required to pay another 65 smackeroos for another 10GB and it goes on and on and on. Knowing how heavy my bandwidth use is, especially when I’ve rushed to meet my deadlines and have ample free time to partake in my hobbies (online guitar lessons being one of them) I seriously doubt the sanity of sticking to this service. Best to simply go offline and use my phone to check facebook and such. No more blogging, no more stimulating discussions with people around the world and definitely no more Gaming.
I checked with Vodafone UK and it turns out that Vodafone UK offers its home users this package for their broadband
- Superfast broadband connection (up to 8Mb) with unlimited usage
- Inclusive calls to UK landlines any time
- 25% off calls to UK mobiles
- FREE UK-based telephone support 24/7
- Broadband modem and microfilters included all for £14 per month.
Yes people, the 8Mb mentioned is actually 8mb/s. There is NO capping. I would like to know why it is that the Ghanaian populace is being treated so differently from the subscribers in the UK. This is unfair treatment as far as I am concerned. According to the group from facebook who met with vodafone officials, the capping system is to serve as a deterrent to those who abuse the bandwidth. I am looking for someone who will explain to me what they mean by abuse of bandwidth. According to vodafone, about 5% of its Ghanaian users abuse the service. I wonder, should the rest of us suffer for their misdeeds? Am I one of those abusers? Well, I can’t tell as I have not had clarification on this. What I understand of bandwidth abuse is stealing wireless internet from people who fail to secure their networks. I fail to see how capping will prevent people from stealing my internet. There has to be a better explanation.
Bottom line, I am extremely unhappy with vodafone and insist that Ghanaians are being treated unfairly. Vodafone needs to do it’s research properly and act accordingly. We’re a struggling nation and cannot afford to throw money away. If they made their services less expensive and more worthwhile, then perhaps we’d be more eager to dispense with our well earned cash, but I for one, with a meagre salary and a huge family, plans of graduate school and such will NOT be sticking around if they do not arrange something better and faster.
You may find these to be of interest:
David Ajao on Phone Networks in Ghana
David on Zain vs MTN
Ghana Business News on Vodafone in Africa