We tested Vodacom’s Linea watch — but it did not work

MyBroadband bought the Linea panic button watch from Vodacom but could not get it to work despite trying all Vodacom’s support channels.

Vodacom launched the Linea Watch in April, describing it as a “digital wristwatch featuring a built-in panic button”.

The watch, which comes with an embedded Vodacom Smart SIM, aims to empower people who cannot speak for themselves.

Pressing its panic button will send an SMS to five pre-determined trusted contacts with a date, time and a live GPS location link that they can monitor for 30 minutes.

It sounds like an excellent device for elderly people who may need help after a fall or children who can not call their parents under certain circumstances.

We decided to buy one and put it through its paces. This was easier said than done.

The watch is only available through the Vodacom Online Store for R499 once-off, and the subscription for the basic service is free.

The first problem we encountered was when buying the watch. The product page explicitly states that delivery is free.

However, once you get to your cart, it states that delivery is R130 extra. Free delivery is only available for orders of over R600.

We decided to buy the watch anyway, but we hit the next snag. The first time we tried ordering, the website said the order was completed. We then received an email stating the order was unsuccessful.

We got an SMS that the money was taken from our account and then immediately received two identical emails that the order was confirmed.

The next day we received a bank notification that the transaction was reversed, and when we checked our order number online, it listed the order status as unknown.

We ordered the watch again, and this time things went smoothly. We received only one confirmation email.

We received a watch one business day after ordering it — better than Vodacom’s two to five business days delivery promise.

The device arrived with a simple instruction booklet with 16 steps to set up the watch.

We followed these steps, which included downloading the Linea+ app and registering with a Vodacom number.

We received a confirmation SMS that the Linea Basic Service had been activated.

We could add up to 5 numbers to which messages would be sent when the panic button is pressed, and these users should be able to track the watch for 30 minutes.

We added a few numbers and tried it out.

Although the watch keeps the time, the panic button feature — its selling point — did not work.

After pressing the button, the sunflower image did appear on the screen as expected. It is the confirmation that the messages have been sent out and tracking is active.

However, no messages were sent.

We left the watch for a day to ensure that the service had enough time to activate, but the same problem occurred when we tested it again.

The app has a link for Vodafone customer support, where we chatted with an agent. The agent asked us to use the Vodafone Smart app and play around with various app permissions.

When that did not work, the agent asked us to take the watch outside to ensure that there was a good GPS signal. It also did not work.

The agent then tried a few more things, but nothing worked. He then asked for three days to try to resolve the problems.

We contacted customer support three business days later, quoting the previous ticket number. We were told that we would be called back later with a resolution.

The same evening, the agent called us and concluded that it was a hardware problem and the watch should be refunded or replaced.

The agent said we could do this at a Vodacom Store, as there was no clear way to do it online.

We visited a nearby Vodacom store and had to wait an hour for a technical consultant to help us, as no one in the store knew about the product.

The technical consulted tried some of the same troubleshooting steps we attempted before but could not get anything working. He also believed it was a hardware problem.

It was time to try to replace the watch or get a refund. The Vodacom store assistant said they could not do this from the store, as seven days had passed since the original order.

The only option was to send the watch for repairs, which would take between two and three weeks.

We then tried to contact Vodacom using online customer support, where the Tobi bot kept freezing before we could get to a consultant. It was unable to make progress.

We called customer service but were moved from one department to the other.

After numerous attempts, we were given an email address that deals with once-off purchases on the online store.

We sent a mail to [email protected] and received an automated response with a reference number.

At the time of writing, we still have the Vodacom Linea watch that does not work.

Vodacom promised that they would collect the watch and that we would receive a refund.

The fact that most customer support agents do not know about the watch, which clearly has serious flaws, gives us little hope that it will be a hit among consumers.

Now read: Vodacom launches panic button watch for R499

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We tested Vodacom’s Linea watch — but it did not work