It’s happened to most of us. Were excited about getting access to the internet. In this case, fibre, not just ADSL, thank you very much. You proudly share your plans with friends and family who all make the appropriate noises of approbation.
You spend some time day dreaming how your going to download content, perhaps upload content too, helped by adverts from the company showing how fast there fibre is and how reliable it is, the natural evolution from ADSL, et al.You swallow the tale, hook, line and sinker. Well at least this writer did. And why not? The fact is that fibre is generally acknowledged to be faster, more reliable, less downtime, more economical over time once you have paid for the installation, special modem suited for fibre. But here’s where the rub is. Who is your ISP (Internet service Provider)? This is probably more important than the technology itself I have learnt from hard experience.
I introduce you to Web Africa, an ISP based in Cape Town. They are one of the only ones to provide fibre, through their contacted third party in my area. So, of course, I am very limited in options for a fixed fire line, hence I signed up with them and in the beginning, I was excited and eager to get started to access this awesome technology. The third party providers eventually arrive but it seems that they know quite literally less than I do about the installation of the line. I kid you not. I’m looking for someone like a goofy neighbor to jump up and say ‘punked’, got you or something like that. But no, it’s true, they don’t have a clue. After a quick rant which doesn’t seem to have much effect on them, or even on my anxiety, I look up the basics on my mobile and give instructions which they follow and many hours later, way past working hours, it’s finally sorted. I pat myself on the back. Surely after this fiasco, it’s going to be a breeze from now on. And in the beginning, it’s relatively easy, I get the modem and have access to fibre! Except, well it’s not nearly as fast as advertised and it’s not actually that reliable. What they don’t tell you is that the speeds advertised and sold are actually for ‘local’ South African’ content. Now considering that the vast majority of content will have nothing to do with Africa means that I need to upgrade. I do and the speed of course improves but the reliability is still poor. I contact web Africa to hear every excuse under the sun, there’s been a break in the line here or the third party provider is doing maintenance or mmm, that’s interesting etc. but never a clear cut solution. Long story short. Over lockdown, I decide enough enough, I’m going to cancel my contract with them but guess what. You cannot..What I hear you say, what nonsense is this? Well, when I tried to do this via their web portal, there is an error, of course there is, how convenient. So, I search and eventually found a hidden number which is their support line which gives the revolting upselling of how amazing they are and that they’re so busy and after waiting what felt like an hour but was probably 25 minutes, I drop the call. Whether this is done on purpose meaning that they are a corporate shark of which there are many, or merely totally inept, one thing is clear. Web Africa is in my opinion, totally useless, unwilling, or unable to hear your complaints and not willing to help.
- Customer service: 0/100
- Product offering:10/100
- Result, stay away from them unless there is literally no other options, including dial up.
I have come up with a few questions and things to confirm before you sign up with a new ISP for fibre or any data service
- Check what are the customer service contact options
- Is the customer service supposedly 24/7?
- Is their data package shaped, ie they limit your band with after using a certain amount of data
- Is their claim of whatever speed local or international?
- Do they have a customer service standard where by if they don’t provide the stated service ie your internet is down or not meeting the advertised speeds for a period greater than 4 hours, then you are not billed for that period pro rata
- Is the speed advertised megabytes or megabits (A big difference but uses the same acronym MB so very often misleading
- Free installation, if not, do you get any discount to offset this and if it’s supposedly free, what is the cost of the modem, if supposedly included, confirm what is the process to return it if you cancel
- What is the process to cancel your contract, what is the notice period, what penalties do they charge etc.
- Last but not least, insist that they put all of the above in writing. Should a bright spark try to say it’s in their terms and conditions, state that this can change at any time according to the T and C’s and that you need this stated in writing as per your right according to the legislation such as treating customers fairly, NCA, consumer protection act.