Dear Mobile Network Operator, you will never sell me a contract over the phone!

Posted on 06/28/2011


Telemarketing sales have become part and parcel of the daily South African experience. Everyday now I except a call from some company or other, usually insurance, selling me product X, Y or Z, that will change my life, secure my life, bring about world peace, I often don’t care enough to remember. My modus operandi is the same with every agent, greet politely, let them waffle on, then politely decline their offer. Occasionally things do get a little heated,:

“No really you HAVE to have product X!”,

“Er no, I’m sure I can make do without it. I’ve managed fine so far”

“What if I throw a complimentary voucher for a meal at restaurant Y”

“No thanks, and you know what, if I really wanted a product from company X, I would just go online and look up the ins and outs myself, goodbye”

The whole process is tiresome, but the agents are consistent, if a little annoying, and they usually get the hint.

Lately however, I have been harassed by salespersons from one of the mobile network operators (MNOs). Now these people represent the worst of the breed for me, and I’m not the only person that has been harassed by said company. I have never considered using this particularly MNO and after this episode I most certainly will not be and think people I have spoken to feel the same way. These people are aggressive, don’t accept no for answer and dig for the most personal information. “Do you have a contract, with what network, what package are you on, do you have a promo fee, how much, what’s your total cost, how much do you spend calls, data SMSs, bundles…”, hey just go on and on. Eventually it switches to, “what about your family, do they have contracts, do you want to get one for them too?”


After the first call, and I must admit I got a little bit rude, I hoped that was the end of that, but alas a different agent calls and with the same spiel. This time it didn’t get as far as trying to get me to tie some one else to a contract. I honestly lost track of the number of times they called. Eventually I reached the end of my tether, and when I heard the now familar, “Mr Letseka, I’m calling from [annoying MNO] and I have an exciting offer for you today”. I cut them off and I gave the poor agent a piece of my mind. I was beyond fed up. They hung up on me.

Thankfully I have not heard from this MNO and its salespeople since but this got me thinking. This particular MNO will not be getting any of my business any time soon, and my guess is that if they are resorting to this strategy they might actually need it! So was it worth their while. I’m one of the more tolerant people I know when it comes to telemarketing, and I eventually lost it so how many people out there are they pissing off. It’s not just this MNO. A relative of mine got a call from their own MNO wanting to sell them a contract, they informed the salesperson that they had already taken out a contract with said MNO, and the salesperson was undeterred, ‘Well that’s okay, just take out another one.’

Now from my understanding just looking at my family and friends, people don’t just take out contracts on a whim. They are expensive, long term affairs and usually require some sort of careful consideration. There are print adverts, tv and radio ads, catalogues and stores in most malls and the average person can get enough information from all these sources to pick the contract and most importantly the handset that is right for them. And these days, with platforms being pushed, most people know about Blackberry, iOS (Apple), Android, Symbian etc…and with platforms locking people in with services and apps, I reckon people will be choosing the platform first, then the device and then the MNO with the best deal for said device. I’m rather partial to hardware, so it will be a combination of the platform with the best services coupled with the hardware of my desire, then playing the MNOs against each other to see what the best deal is. No telemarketing salesperson can and will be able to ever sell me a contract and I would really appreciate it if these sales strategy would just stop. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating and most of all it is futile. And I don’t think I am alone in thinking that.

P.S Now, the MNO that brings the astonishing Nokia N9, dead platform or not, to South Africa is guaranteed my money.

Posted in: Mobile, Rant