Many South Africans may be stuck at home for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions placed on movement.
A number of local companies have been allowed to continue operating, however, including mobile networks.
Local mobile operators such as Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Cell C continue to provide services to customers, although in many cases their physical stores are closed.
This means that if you need to make any changes to your cellphone or data package, you can do so online or through your network’s call centre.
It is also possible to take out a new cellphone contract with certain mobile operators using an online application process.
This process differs between mobile networks, and many have also warned that delivery of SIMs and devices may be delayed due to the restrictions in place under COVID-19 alert level 4.
iStore South Africa has stated that if customers wish to take out a new contract or upgrade their existing package, they can do so online and their new device will be delivered as soon as it is available.
Online applications for Apple devices are available on Vodacom, MTN, and Telkom, iStore South Africa said.
We have detailed the online application process for Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Cell C below, based on the information available on each operator’s website.
Vodacom continues to offer online shopping through its website throughout the duration of the lockdown.
“As a core service, our online store and courier service remain operational,” Vodacom states on its website.
On the company’s online store, customers can browse contract deals which include smartphones, and they are able to sign up for a new smartphone contract without visiting a physical store.
Additionally, Vodacom offers free delivery on upgrades, contracts, and prepaid orders over R500.
The Vodacom online store lets users select the device they want, sign in with their personal and banking details, and complete the online application.
Customers can provide the required documentation directly through the online application process, and once it is completed, their new device will be delivered to their door.
Deliveries take place between 08:00 and 17:00 from Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.
We found that most devices were available for purchase from the Vodacom online store, with only certain handsets listed as out of stock.
If customers want to take out a new MTN contract using the company’s online portal, they can apply for their desired contract online.
After submitting this application, they will be contacted by an MTN representative to complete their contract application.
“You may apply online and on the application form please make sure you click ‘Permission to vet’ box,” MTN states on its website.
“Within 24 hours of your application submission, one of our agents will contact you to complete your application.”
MTN allows customers to shop for new contracts online during the COVID-19 lockdown, as well as manage their account through the online portal, MTN app, WhatsApp support channel, and USSD menu.
The mobile operator also continues to deliver orders to customers, stating that it observes all recommended COVID-19 precautions when delivering devices to customers.
“For everyone’s safety, our drivers keep a reasonable, safe distance from customers when delivering devices,” the company said.
To apply for a new MTN contract on the company’s website, customers can visit the online store and construct their deal using the Made for Me portal.
Once customers have completed the online application, they will be:
- Contacted by a call centre agent to verify and obtain further information once their form is submitted.
- Subject to a credit vetting process and by submitting this form they are agreeing to be subject to a credit vet.
- Required to provide additional documents for a contract application.
- Required to sign a contract once the call centre agent advises them of a successful application.
Following this process, the customer’s device will be delivered to their door at no charge.
Telkom’s online store remains open, although it notes that deliveries of devices will be delayed due to the lockdown when attempting to order a new contract with a device.
After continuing with this order, customers will be required to complete an online application form before they can take out a new contract.
Following this application process will allow you to submit the required documents and place an order for your new device to be delivered to you.
Telkom told MyBroadband that it has facilitated a number of new contract orders through its online platform since the lockdown began.
“Telkom has continued to sign up new contracts during lockdown as per the regulations under level 5, although the sales channels were only through our call centre 10213 and online as seen in all our communication material over Level 5 lockdown,” the company said.
“Customers have also been able to apply for deals published online, directly on our website, via the Apply Now button which allows us to capture the customer’s details for a callback.”
“The Sales Call Centre operation has therefore been processing qualifying orders and using our couriers to get them delivered to customers,” Telkom said.
In a recent media statement, Telkom said that it had closed all of its physical stores in South Africa to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
However, it said its stores are re-opening from 6 May in accordance with level 4 restrictions.
“We are currently preparing our stores for reopening from 6 May 2020, in line with the regulations guiding level 4 lockdown, to ensure social distancing to maintain the safety of our customers and employees,” Telkom said.
Cell C has stated on its website that its stores are open for business and it is adhering to all health and safety requirements set out by the government.
The Cell C website states that for the duration of the lockdown, a number of services will be impacted.
“Due to the impact of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, please note that deliveries might be slightly delayed. We appreciate your patience,” the website states.
Call centre operating hours will be reduced and will be open between 06:00 – 22:00 daily, Cell C said, and wait times will be increased due to limited staff.
The company did add that support and self-service channels, including the Cell C app, USSD system, and online portal will continue to be available.
This means that existing contract customers will be able to view and manage their accounts through these self-service systems.
They will also be able to order new devices and contracts through the company’s online store.
Cell C customers can follow a step-by-step process to place an order for a new contract online, supplying their billing details and delivery address through an online form.