Hands up everyone who rushed out and bought Apple’s iPhone as soon as it was launched in South Africa a couple of weeks ago.
Stick the other hand up if, after the initial glow of possession faded, you’re now feeling a severe case of buyers’ remorse and are more inclined to think of your incredibly expensive new toy as the aiyeeeeeee phone.
I don’t see how anyone can have bought the phone and not be regretting it because it is clearly not worth anything like the extortionate prices being charged for it in this country.
Long-time readers of this column will know my feelings on the extreme greed shown by South African businesses, but the pricing of the iPhone is surely one of the most sickening examples I’ve yet come across.
To recap, for those who have not seen the pricing yet, the Vodacom website quotes the full cash price of the iPhone, with 8Gb of memory, at a shocking R6389. This is the price you’d have to pay if you bought the phone to use on your existing contract, or on a pay-as-you-go basis.
To get an 8Gb model, with 500 talk-time minutes bundled with it, is going to cost you R925 per month, times 24, and you’ll have to pay in an extra R2189 in cash for the phone, plus any admin fees they can dream up.
Included with that contract is 100 SMSs a month and 250Mb of Internet bandwidth, which seems incredibly paltry, given the fact that accessing the Internet is one of the main things the iPhone was brought into existence for.
The page with the pricing details makes no mention at all about what happens if you exceed 250Mb of bandwidth in a month. I did try the customer care line and was unable to raise a human being but, after searching the site, I found a page which seems to infer that the charge for extra bandwidth would be R2 per megabyte.
That means R2048 per gigabyte and, therefore, that your kids could quite easily put you in the bankruptcy course if you happened to leave your phone lying around unguarded at the weekend.
To my mind, it’s pretty clear that the iPhone cannot possibly be worth what Vodacom is charging for it. A glance at AT&T’s website in the USA will confirm just how much the South African consumer is being ripped-off.
The phone is only available on contract from AT&T and you first have to pay them $199 (R1667) in cash for it. You them have to choose a contract and the least expensive of those is $69.99 (R587) per month and, for that, you get 450 anytime talk minutes and 5000 (no, that’s not a misprint) weekend and evening talk minutes.
You get unlimited Internet bandwidth with the package and, if you up your monthly payment to $129 (R1077) per month, you get unlimited anytime talk minutes as well.
I don’t say that AT&T provides this sort of value for their customers out of the goodness of its corporate heart. Their customers will accept nothing less and its time we South African consumers began to demand better value for our money too.
I would love an iPhone but I would rather die than pay so much more than it’s worth.
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