Dear Web Africa. Goodbye.

I am ever so excited about your new 10GB ADSL trial.
I signed up as soon as I could and as you told me:

Dear 6000

Congratulations and thank you for signing up in time to participate and receive your 10 Gigs of FREE bandwidth! We have hit our target of 5, 000 sign ups.
All applicants will be informed via e-mail and optionally SMS, as soon as the trial begins and you will then be supplied with your login details.
We will periodically be sending updates regarding the starting date, however please visit our Forum regularly to stay informed on additional news and progress reports.

Since then, you have sent me precisely no SMS’s and one email, detailing how my trial account would be activated “between 1st and 7th October”.

Today is the 8th of October and I have heard nothing more. The 8th falls outside that 1st – 7th activation period you gave me, see?
And while I accept that this was a “free trial” and there were terms and conditions attached, courtesy – especially when directed towards your customers – really costs nothing.

Sadly, this is symptomatic of the general decline in the quality of your services in the 3+ years that I have been a customer. On the occasions that you have sorted out issues and problems, it’s only because I have repeatedly chased you to get answers.
On your front page, one of the testimonials describes you as being “like a breath of fresh air”. That’s how I felt when I first signed up with you, but now things have got a bit stale and there is a faint whiff of BS around the place.

With the advent of SeaCom, South Africa finds itself in a very promising position. Higher speed internet and greater bandwidth capacity have provoked huge excitement throughout the IT industry and amongst internet users across the country. SeaCom opens up huge opportunities in every sector, from Education to Commerce to Science and Technology.

Sadly, to get to the people that matter and to make a difference, it has to go through ISPs like you. And if your service is anything to go by, it will probably never get there.

So yes, I was ever so excited about your 10GB ADSL trial, but now I will be taking my bandwidth elsewhere.

27 thoughts on “Dear Web Africa. Goodbye.

  1. How much choice does a user in search of broadband have in South Africa?

    Despite my own recent frustrations (which, it appears, are caused by me choosing where I live without thinking ahead) I still use BT which, you’ll be aware, used to be the state-owned monopoly. Nonetheless, I am in no doubt that – all BS aside – the competition for Net connections over here since that monopoly was broken has made a huge difference to the quality of service that BT provides.
    .-= Ro´s last blog ..Scanning The Past =-.

  2. Ro > There is some degree of choice, but not as much as in the UK. But we were still limited to one S L O W line out of the country. With SeaCom coming in, there’s suddenlky greater bandwidth and therefore, competition and hope. But only if certain companies pull their fingers out.

    Craig > I have also heard good things. Thanks.

    Rory > Another vote for Afrihost. Thanks.

    Jacques > I have looked everywhere. Apparently there were issues with the trial and those have delayed the rollout of the last accounts (via their forums). Which might explain things, but it would have been nice, professional, courteous (or all of the above) to have actually told those individuals affected.

  3. Hey there

    The email notifications were relating to the start of the trial. To that end we send a mass mail out on the 18th of September. Since the trial start we have been communicating through the Forum, as to not spam everyone with the daily updates.

    We felt it wiser to not release any accounts the past two days while we attended to some technical issues. We have just released another 600 accounts with another 600 queued for later.

    All trial participants will still receive the account details email, and optional sms, upon activation.All accounts are scheduled for release before the end of the weekend, unless anything unforeseen pops up.

    Please keep an eye open for the daily trial updates posted on the Forum as well.
    “It has been quite a learning curve as quite a large percentage of our new infrastructure is cutting edge, and has not been previously deployed in South Africa. With this, LONG late night calls, to various vendors in different time zones, becomes par for the course!

    We are however aiming to have all the remaining accounts released by the end of the weekend, and will afford trial users at least a week to use these.”

    Regards, Christiaan

  4. Goblin > I have found their actual product really good. It’s their service which has gone down the tubes.
    Apparently, all accounts will be activated by the end of the weekend. But why does one have to dig for this information?
    They didn’t want to spam us, they say. Just one email saying there were delays would have helped.

  5. Why don’t you fly back home to the **** hole you originated from?

    [comment edited by 6000 on grounds of bad language and stupidity]

  6. Hi 6000,

    It upsets me to hear you are not happy with Web Africa but I can assure you we are doing everything we possibly can to release more accounts as soon as possible. We recently released another 600.

    We are giving daily updates on our forums as mentioned in all of the notification emails:

    This forum post specifically mentioning that we may fall outside of the 7th of October due to technical issues:

    We are rolling out some state of the art technology that unfortunately nobody in SA has experience with as well as working with foreign companies who only work limited hours has slowed us down and frustrated us that we were not able to deliver on time.

    This trial was purely to assist us in fine tuning our network, we are aware that a gift of 10gb’s of free bandwidth was provided but ultimately all we are doing is testing our own infrastructure to make sure that our customers experience a seamless transfer over to the new network.

    You will receive your login details as soon as possible and we have guaranteed that everyone will have at least 1 week on the network before the trial ends.

    I wish you the best of luck with whichever ISP you choose to go to with.
    Keep well.


    Kyron Beckx
    Web Africa Marketing Manager

  7. Christiaan > Thanks for your comment. I can see that the information is there, but even just ONE email telling people it was there wouldn’t have hurt.

    PSA > Well darling, I would. It’s just that I can’t get online to buy air tickets.

    Kyron > Again – thanks for your comment. And I recognise that what you are doing is novel and challenging. I just feel that the communication to customers could have been better.
    Many of my issues relating to WA’s customer service come down to WA’s communication. I know that the product that you are supplying is good, I know that the people that work there know their stuff. But they’re just not as good at showing me that as they used to be.
    I know I’m not alone in this regard.

  8. Hi 6000,

    I agree with you completely.
    Our communications/marketing department has grown from 3 people to 8 people in the last 5 months to improve communication to customers.

    We did drop the ball on this one and that a mail should have been sent out to those that have not been mailed their trial accounts, I will get on that right away. Things just get so busy around here that sometimes we miss the simple/easy things that make the biggest difference.

    Through blog posts like yours we learn from our mistakes so that we can improve as a company.

  9. Kyron > No – it was an email from my mother-in-law asking if I could go round and unblock her toilet again.

    (just kidding)

  10. Kyron,

    You most likely are upset quite a few time a day with the service levels @ Webafrica?

    These days it is funny is I don’t speak to Daniel on a monthly bases..

    But it is fine, I will keep it in for Mathew @ 2009 My Broadband Conference, I will try and have a chat with him on the 12th of November.

  11. Hi Un:)Cmpr,

    Yes unfortunately you are correct on that one.
    I can say that we are very aware of the support issues and are doing everything within our power to address the issues.

    We have developed a customer care department that acts as a second line of quality control apart from department managers to catch sloppy support as soon as possible and take action. Due to our sudden growth in 2008 we were caught off guard and had to increase our staff by around 50% in a year, meaning a lot of inexperienced staff taking up experienced staffs time for training.

    As well as rolling out our own adsl network which has taken up serious amounts of manpower and capital, something we had to do in answer to our customers calling out for more unique and better priced packages. We might have taken a knock by the community but we made an investment which would ultimately benefit our customers.

    Over the last 2 months we feel like the company is stabilizing and we can now focus on providing the best support, not just “good for SA standards”.

    I will be at the Mybb conference with Matt so will most likely see you there.

  12. Kyron > As I mentioned earlier – I think it’s your fault. If you hadn’t have been so proficient in the first place then (sadly) I wouldn’t have expected anything better than “SA service”.

    What a sad indictment that is on levels of customer support in this country

  13. 6000, based on our last 2 months statistics from customer surveys, call and ticket ratings, unanswered calls, response time etc we are improving. Not saying that we are currently the best or anything but I can say that our support is working its way back up to the standards that you remember in the first place.

    If you are still leaving Web Africa, please just keep an eye on us in the near future and I can promise you that you will hear good things.

  14. Just today I got a mail from BuyComputers regarding their new offering. Less than R20 per GB.

    With them, Afrihost and Axis guys like WebAfrica are going to lose loads of customers to these newer much cheaper options.

  15. With them, Afrihost and Axis guys like WebAfrica are going to lose loads of customers to these newer much cheaper options.

    Unfortunately, one of the lessons I have learnt in my relatively short life so far, is that cheaper normally comes at a price.

  16. Rory > It’s getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper…

    Reflex > Firstly – welcome back – long time no see.
    I agree that something is often/usually missing when you pay less for a service, but then, if you’re paying more, surely you should expect to get more?

  17. Good to be back, geographically been bouncing backwards and forwards for a while.
    Going to be unsettled for a bit, but ultimately settling in sunny SA some time soon.

    As per paying extra to get more, it depends what more of is.
    If everything was comparatively the same bar the price, then price is the only factor that will be used to make a decision.

  18. Reflex > Nice. I look forward to seeing this “sun” of which you speak.

    I guess my point was – if I am going to lose out on – say – customer service by going with ACME Interwebs and I feel that I’m missing out on customer service AND paying more at the moment, then I should surely go cheap?
    I realise that it’s not quite that simple, though.

  19. Depends if ACME Interwebs will give you Unshaped, high speed, reliable access with more bandwidth and no customer support as opposed to Unshaped, high speed, reliable access and customer support that doesn’t perhaps respond?

    It comes down to how the consumer will prioritise what means more to them.

    Leave a Reply