Today, I climb atop this soapbox to tell you about Safaricom Customer Care and Nokia Care and why I’ll never deal with either company again.
Late last year I was upgrading my phone. So I let our followers on Twitter choose what phone I was going to get. Why? Because you guys give awesome advice. To answer your next question, yes, that moisture on your rump is me ass-kissing.
Anyhow, I ended up with a Nokia N8 from Safaricom (in spite of our history with them). I paid the full price – which was then the equivalent of a few goats and a cow – and waltzed out with a shiny phone and an iron clad warranty to match.
For months I used the phone and had no complaints. The 12 megapixel camera takes amazing pictures and the HD video is quite a riot. The 16GB internal memory was always more than enough and I never had any majore issue of the phone misbehaving that was not resolved by rebooting or updating.
So it was that one morning I turned the phone on, entered my lock code and received a ‘Code error’. I tried it again to no avail. Without hesitation, I quickly Googled this bug and found multiple accounts of similar qualms; some on Nokia Support Boards, others not. Heck, there’s even a Facebook Group & topic about it somewhere.
After some reading, I was reassured that this was a small system glitch that’s easily fixed by Nokia Customer Care. I called a local number and they told me know that all I had to do was drop my phone off where I bought it, they’d take it to Nokia Care and I’d get it back flashed and fresh.
I pulled out my little warranty and went to the Safaricom outlet where I bought the phone with my assistant, Michelle. We stood at the repair line for quite some time(30 or so minutes) before a little lady came and asked me whether I was there for repairs. I looked at the little sign that said ‘Repairs only’ and nodded. She asked ‘So what do you want?’
I explained the error.
“So you forgot your code?”
“No, I don’t change my code on anything. Although it’s ill-advised, I keep the same code on all my cards, phones, etc.”
“So someone changed your code?” As she stared at Michelle.
“Again, no. I had the phone. Turned it off. Turned it on. And the code didn’t work. It’s a relatively frequent error with the phone. I just want it flashed quickly.”
“So you changed the code yourself?” She retorted.
“Again, no. I had the phone. Turned it off. Turned it on. And the code didn’t work.” At this point I was getting tired of repeating myself.
“Oh. Ok. So take the phone to Nokia Care. Take your warranty, they’ll do it for you.”
“But I bought it here.”
“Yeah, tell them that. It’ll take about an hour.”
And she walked off after explaining where exactly I needed to go. I gave Michelle a puzzled look and we began to walk. It was now 10:15am and we had a meeting at 11.
We walk into Nokia Care to find empty counters all across with 3 ladies having what seemed to be an enthralling conversation in one corner. One gave us a glace and measured us up and down before turning away and resuming her conversation.
We waited until
she finished telling her part of the story and we were finally summoned. I sat down, calmly greeted her and asked how she was.
“So what do you want?” She asked. Clearly not one for pleasantries.
I explained the situation.
“So you forgot your code?”
Oh God. Not this again.
After 15 minutes of back and forth aimless banter, she finally says “We can fix this but we’ll charge you and you have to leave it here for 3-5 days.”
“But I have a 12 month warranty on all repairs and service and it’s only been 5 months. Also I was told this could be done in an hour.”
“Your warranty doesn’t cover this. And it takes 5 days.”
“I checked with Nokia and Safaricom before coming here and they said my warranty covers it.”
“I’m with Nokia. I’m telling you it doesn’t.”
“OK. I’ve read the warranty and it says nothing about this. Can you….”
She cuts me off and says: “Well, maybe you don’t know how to read warranties.”
Did this broad just call me illiterate? At this point, Michelle was already seated far away seething with anger. I couldn’t think of a relevant comeback. ‘I KNOW how to read’ is not nearly gangsta enough. Also, I hate being blatantly told I’m somehow stupid. I recomposed myself and told the lady:
“Look, I’ve followed protocol to the tee. What do I have to get in order to show you that Nokia & Safaricom themselves told me to bring my phone here? Do I need a letter or something?”
“Yeah, get it and come back and I’ll fix it.” She chortled and then she turned away and resumed her initial conversation.
I said thank you to the back of her head and walked away.
I was already done at that point. The End. I was going to give the phone away and go buy a Sony Ericsson from Airtel or an iPhone from Orange.
But Michelle suggested we revisit Safaricom and follow it up. I decided to do all the talking seeing as Michelle was breathing fire. After yet another half hour of waiting (if you’re keeping track, I have 5 minutes to make it to my next meeting) a certain short fellow shows up. His name has been changed because we’re not in the practice of snitching on DR.
So Shortman says “I’ve been looking for you. I was told there were some angry and impatient people out here. How can I help you?”
Oh wow. I was about to get insulted but I noticed Michelle lost it and I had to cut her short before she cut him into little pieces. Well….littler.
“Shortman, I have 2 issues and you’re going to tell me whether or not you can resolve them or not. If you can’t, don’t waste any more of our time. If you can, do it with urgency.”
“OK” he says.
“Issue number 1: I have a warranty. I have a repair. I need my warranty to cover my repair.” I gave him the particulars.
“Sorry for the confusion. We’ll take the phone there ourself and resolve that immediately.”
“Dandy. Issue number 2: I don’t have 5 days to wait for something I’ve been told takes less than an hour…”
He cut me off to explain that indeed there was such a huge backlog that the process normally takes a few days and then gave me his word that he would have the phone back to me before the end of the day, while still apologizing profusely. He promised. I assume promises mean something among the little people.
Did I mention he was eye-banging Michelle? Yeah, he kept looking over at her complete with the LL Cool J lip-licking and up and down look. So unprofessional.
She couldn’t calm down after that. Fury was her name.
Anyway, we sign some forms and exchange numbers and rush to our meetings.
At about 3pm, Michelle reminds me that Shortman still hasn’t called. She also encourages me to talk to someone at the management of Nokia Care the following day. We agree that if Shortman does not call before day’s end, we’ll make Nokia our first stop in the morning; Safaricom would be second.
He didn’t call.
9am the next morning we were calmly walking toward Nokia Care. Today there were about 2 or 3 other clients there; all being attended to. Still, about 2 counters were empty and the lady from the day before was floating from counter to counter. Again, we took a ticket and remained polite. We waited. For a while. The number was called.
We walked up to the counter to be met by a lady who said she was the manager. After I explained the previous day, she was shocked and apologized profusely and insisted that I go to Safaricom, retrieve my phone and that she would flash it for me ON THE SPOT and give it back. I was not moved. This was one broken promise too late.
Still, I was back at Safaricom where I was told Shortman had not come into work(It’s now 10:30am). We got referred to 2 or 3 other people before some disgruntled lady walked up to me and said
“We can’t fix your phone. It’s physically damaged.”
“What do you mean physically damaged?” I was genuinely concerned.
“It’s physically damaged so we can’t fix it.”
Michelle snapped: “That doesn’t explain anything. What. Do you. Mean. By. “The phone is physically damaged.”?
She just brashly said “Wait for 20 minutes and I’ll take you to Nokia Care.”
OK, now at this point I was flat out pissed. It’s now been 24 hours. A whole damn day. If my warranty didn’t cover it, I could’ve been told 10 minutes into this whole saga and saved a lot of time and stres and – wait for it – money. If the physical damage was the issue, AGAIN, 5-10 minutes that would be done. Heck, the only person who told me anything and stuck to her guns was the broad who called me illiterate – which, again, WTF?
We were now walking behind the frustrated Safaricom rep towards Nokia Care and I had my receipt and a full copy of my Nokia and Safaricom Warranties in my back pocket. We walked into to find the Nokia Care defensive line; the manager, the chick that told me I can’t read warranties and the lady who I assume was training her. They began by talking about another phone for what felt like forever. We’re now nearing midday.
Then it came time to talk about my phone. I interrupted and asked “Before we start, does anyone have a copy of the warranty?”
A lawyer once taught me this trick. Always make sure you know what you sign up for. If you didn’t sign up for it, you are not subject to it.
Fun fact: Nokia Care does not keep copies of Nokia Care Warranties. You just have to take their word for it.
Funner fact: Safaricom keeps copies of Nokia Care Warranties. They are kinda small and hard to find, but you can find them in the displays somewhere.
Fun facts aside, it was time for war. They quickly said they didn’t have a warranty for me to look at as though that was cool. The manager – who had just told me that she’d fix my phone, with all the facts involved – turns around and says she can’t because of physical damage to the phone. I ask: “What damage is this that caused the error on the phone?”
She quickly clarified that the damage did not cause the error. It’s – in her own words – ‘just a small crack on the headphone jack’. My eyes rolled so hard I got whiplash. I then said that the Warranty only disqualifies coverage when the physical damage actually covers the error (shamelessly reading from it at this point). She then switched her story back to the fact that my warranty does not cover me when I forget my code. I clarify AGAIN that I did not forget my code and ask where that clause is in the warranty. Because when I see “12 months of free repair and service” and another 5 clauses, and no qualifying statement anywhere about anything else, I’m sure I did not agree to anything else.
After a lengthy back and forth I told them to give me my phone back and to do me 4 favors:
1. Look up the Nokia N8 Lock Code Error online and see how common it is (because they said it wasn’t; “You must’ve forgotten your code”).
2. To either write better warranties or to honor the warranties they give. One or the other. Their warranties are as useless as Shortman’s promises.
3. To stop insulting people. Next to ‘The customer is always right’, add ‘Try not to call your customer illiterate.’ In this case, he’s a relatively well-read loudmouth who’ll let the world know when they step out of line.
4. To stop wasting our time. To be honest, the amount of time wasted chasing, waiting, hopes up hopes down, yes and no, back and forthing was the nail in the coffin. Why even bother to begin with?
I called a customer care line for Nokia in Europe and it took them all of 3 minutes to explain the situation to me. “Unfortunately this is a non-warranty service. [insert explanation].We regret that you will have to pay a fee for it. We apologize for any confusion on this matter.”
You see. Polite. To the point. And English wasn’t even his native language.
Meanwhile, I’m being paraded around Nairobi having myself and assistant insulted and exhausted; sent walking around chasing clouds when we could’ve wrapped this up in less time than it takes to light a cigar. And then they give me my phone and walk off like I just dissed them when I’m the one supposed to be paying them?
Never again. To both Nokia and Safaricom in Kenya. Thanks but no thanks, I do not suffer from battered wife syndrome. I am not the Terminator. I will not be back. Keep your abuse to yourselves.
The N8 is a great phone, if you want it, I’ll sell it to you for half what I got it for. Seriously. I’ll pay someone to go to Nokia Care and get it fully serviced and functional, with the little crack on the earphone jack and sell it to you for 25 grand. But I will NOT deal with either of those companies again. EVER. I am not a camel, straws do not break my back. Just a little bad service a little too often.
PS: One thing I’d like to get out of the way immediately is that we at Diasporadical do not believe in pointlessly attacking random companies without reason. We talk about Customer Care practices because it directly affects our lives individually and influences the growth of the country in a substantial manner.
As a close friend once said “If we refused to pay for goods if the service was bad, the only people that would suffer are Customer Care. The company will find some other way to sell you their goods/services, and/or the buyer will keep his/her funds. The problem with this country though is that we continually pay for bad service; and in turn keep bad service providers in business. We’ve developed a culture of settling for less that transcends through all domains of life.” I could not agree more.
UPDATE: Nokia Care fixed the phone the day the blog went up; many thanks to Dorothy Ooko. They also put up their warranty at their stores and to the best of my knowledge have addressed a lot of the concerns raised here. They also threw in a little gift as an apology of sorts for the occurrences of that day. Again, Dorothy, you rock. I’ve also liaised with a lot of senior folk at Safaricom and they have promised to change up policies and tidy up their practices. Waiting to see what happens on that front. Also, sold the N8. Many good tidings to the new owner.