Web developer goes viral after MTN refuse phone fix

When MTN and Sony failed to repair a “rugged” Xperia Go’s spontaneous screen fail, web developer Calvin Mathias turned to the net to get the word out

When the screen on the Sony Xperia Go belonging to Calvin Mathias began cracking spontaneously, the 22-year-old web developer didn’t stand idly by – he urged his boss to film the event as proof that his phone has a fatal screen flaw.

“There were three of us having a meeting in the office when we heard a strange cracking sound coming from my desk. I went over to see what it was and found my 6-day-old Sony Xperia Go on the desk where I had left it. The screen was imploding all by itself – as if the there was a fatal manufacturing flaw with my phone where screen was under too much pressure or it had some kind of weakness,” explains Mathias.

Realising it unlikely that cellphone service provider MTN would believe his claim, Mathias urged his boss and former journalist, Alistair Cotton, to video the spontaneous cracking of the screen.

Mathias returned the phone to MTN on the same day of the screen break and let the Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal branch know that he had a video of the screen cracking by itself. The branch told him that they would send the phone in for a warranty assessment.

Unfortunately for Mathias, MTN service returned the phone a full three weeks later refusing to honour their warranty. The phone was then sent for repair assessment – which turned out to be over R1 100 for repair to a screen which can be purchased online for R150.

Instead of paying for the repair, Mathias turned to the internet to let the world know of his plight. The video of the screen breaking was uploaded to YouTube (http://youtu.be/Fvuanl18aZg) and a complaint was posted on consumer website Hello Peter (http://hellopeter.com/mtn/complaints/sony-experia-go-spontaneous-screen-fail-no-repair-1172153). In addition, both Mathias and Cotton linked the Hello Peter complaint to their Facebook profiles to spread the word. Cotton also turned the incident into a blog post on their company website (www.durbanwebdesign.net), which was in turn syndicated to multiple other sites and distributed to media country-wide.

“Like most people, I hate it when big companies take advantage of the little guy,” says Cotton. “East Coast Radio’s Wendy Knowler wrote an article about the Consumer Protection Act in March where she affirmed that ‘If you buy something and within six months, it breaks in some way, you are entitled to take it back to the store of your choice of a refund, replacement or repair.’ Why is it that even when we have a video of the screen breaking by itself that MTN still refuses to replace or repair the phone?” asks Cotton.

Nevertheless, Mathias says that he doubts MTN will change their mind about honouring the repair in terms of the Consumer Act and that he will probably buy a replacement screen and the tools to fix it himself.

“Hopefully large companies like MTN and Sony will take heed of the adage that one should never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel,” says Cotton. “Reputation risk is significant for companies that don’t play fair with their consumers – especially in a world where everyone is connected,” he says.


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