Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cell C's strange dealings with man of many promises

Dear South African cell phone users,

         Work this one out if you can.
         In April this year Kevin Pearman’s Germiston based, The World Loves a Winner company, concluded a written agreement to market Cell C. The plan Kevin submitted to clinch the deal predicted that he could virtually double Cell C’s market share with 10-million new members by 2014.
         He believed that as Cell C’s call rate had been cut to the lowest in the market at 99 cents his scheme would be far more effective than Cell C’s adverting campaign that had only brought in a million new members in the last year.
And as I had previously reported on Kevin’s tyre monitoring invention for heavy vehicles (See Big business turns on little man with ‘brilliant concept’) he sent me details of his Cell C appointment.
         The gist of it was that by selling sim cards investors would reap the following benefits: For a joining fee of R600 a month they would earn 3% of the monthly airtime purchased per card activated and 1.5% of the airtime used by the new members.
         Down the line they would also get 1% of the airtime used by the cards activated by the people their members recruited as well as R150 for each new member and R50 for anybody these people signed up.
         Kevin’s company would pay these amounts from commission he received from Cell C.
    It sounded a real money spinner for just about anybody. But as Kevin claimed You can easily make an extra R800 000 per annum or get there quicker it seemed too good to be true so I decided to check it with Cell C.

On 16 July I asked Alan Knott-Craig, the company’s Chief Executive, in an email, if the scheme had Cell C’s blessing. He was formerly the CEO at Vodacom.

         Three days later things began to unravel for Kevin.

         On 19 July, unknown to me at the time, Hilton Coverly, Cell C’s Executive Head, Informal Marketing told Kevin that the agreement was cancelled and his firm would no longer be allowed to market Cell C.
         On 10 August the story took a new twist. Surie Ramasary its Executive Head, Product Management replied to the email I sent to Knott-Craig saying Please note Cell C does not condone this type of business concept and we have not been privy to it. It is a breach of the current agreement signed. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

         No mention was made of the fact that the contract had been cancelled three weeks earlier. And when I asked her in a subsequent email how she could say her firm knew nothing about the scheme when her name appeared on the agreement, I got no reply.

         On 20 August an angry Kevin sent a hand delivered letter to Knott-Craig pointing out that the agreement was reached after his marketing plan had been submitted and approved by Cell C’s officials. And one of the signatories was Coverly.
Comedian Trevor Noah in a Cell C ad
Kevin stated he had met Coverly the previous day to ascertain the reason for this grossly unreasonable cancellation. But he got no sympathy and was told that it was done because it was a pyramid and get-rich-quick scheme.
         Kevin countered that this was completely untrue as We are promoting your company’s business in a legal, effective manner. He asked Knott-Craig to reconsider the cancellation.
         In his biography Second to Nothing Knott-Craig, who was formerly the CEO of Vodacom, told us that his word was his bond as he often clinched deals with just a handshake.
         But he seemed determined to stay clear of this one.
         On 21 August Kevin got a fax from Jose Dos Santos saying that as Cell C’s Chief Commercial Officer he had been mandated by Knott-Craig to deal with this matter. He stated that after having read all the documentation he had decided after carefully deliberating with my team that the termination letter sent on 19 July should remain in effect.
Kevin again
Kevin protested to Dos Santos that he had never been told of any breach of the contract and that it was unreasonable to cancel it under a clause that said this could be done at any time at Cell C’s sole discretion without penalty on 60 days notice. Coverly, he claimed, had said his plan was like throwing sim cards out of a helicopter.
         He told me that since he began promoting the scheme 140 people had signed up as agents and he had had many more inquiries. He had obtained a written commitment from the Executive Council of the Kekana tribe at Hammanskraal to switch its 750 000 members to Cell C. Two other large tribes had given a similar undertaking verbally.
         Another possibility was that a union with 2.3-million members would be interested in joining.
         To date he had spent close to R150 000 on a website to control the operation and the cancellation would badly affect the many people who were relying on this for additional or in some cases their primary income.
        It looked as though big business had turned on the little man once again, although this time it was not quite as simple as that.

      Did Cell C belatedly tumble to Kevin’s very chequered business record?

         Kevin has never been short on new ideas. But if his Sunday Times advertisements (see examples) are anything to go by his promotions have always had a too-good-to- be- true, get-rich-quick image.

This was in December 2010

    He promised to make millionaires out of investors in his N-tyre Solutions, the company that has his tyre monitoring system. However this has been on the runway for more than 10 years and never seems to get off the ground.
         He said 450 people had invested in it, but it doesn’t look as though they will ever get anything back.
The hot pad money maker
         Last year he was asking people to put money into his latest venture – marketing reusable heating pads to treat muscle strains and the like. At the time he told me I want to rectify my already tarnished name and make sufficient money to finalise my N-tyre business.
         He said he had come a along way in allaying all the negative publicity surrounding myself and N-tyre, and I am having the first shareholders meeting (after many years) – one of the gripes against me.
         He soon bailed out of the hot pad business. So what happened to the investors, if any, is anyone’s guess.

This agreement was signed by just about all Cell  C's top brass except Knott-Craig
         He now says he started as a Cell C reseller out of necessity to raise the R2-million I need to launch N-tyre myself and that N-tyre’s potential was better than ever with the strong possibility of the insurance industry embracing it.
         He explained his dubious Sunday Times advertising (see examples) as the only way to get people to respond. The ST is rudely expensive and I must do whatever I can to get to talk to people, was his explanation.
         It looks as though Cell C should do a bit more research before it enters into its next contract. The internet makes it so easy these days.
         Yours suspiciously
         Jon, your Consumer Watchdog. 

P.S.   I think you’ll agree the world does love a winner, but it doesn’t have much time for losers.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Dear Gary Player,

         Sorry you are now not the oldest man to strip naked for a photo shoot. Here I am a few months short of 80. That’s three years older than you.
         ESPN magazine seems to be a bit slow publishing my picture, but I can’t help it if they don’t recognise one that’s even more sensational than the one of you that appeared in its annual The Body Issue.
         Possibly you won’t agree but I thought that the one of US volleyball player Kerry Walsh Jennings beat both of us.

Is this Player?

         All this exercise business is totally overrated if you ask me. I know I won’t convince you as you constantly brag about the fact that you do 1 000 sit-ups a day and plan to push it up to 1 200 and have also won a few golf tournaments.
         Another one of your self boosting observations is that "Most people my age haven’t seen their private parts in 10 years because they have such a big stomach." (As a golfer it couldn’t be more serious if you can’t see your balls)

Mark Wiebe of the US
winner of the 2013 Senior British
         The last time I looked I could see mine and if I couldn’t I could definitely feel them. Does that still count?
         The only time I do a sit-up is when I get to the dinning room table for a slap up meal of just about everything that is edible.
         Like a good golfer I see you are increasing the greens part of your diet from 70% to 85%.
     But tell me Gary is there any evidence that cows live longer than people? Aren’t they supposed to be blowing up the world with their gas? So imagine what it will be like if all the millions of people went out to graze as you seem to be advocating.
Or is this Player?

         From what you say Gary you are absolutely perfect. You have no aches or pains and you take no medication or supplements at all. And of course you have the body of a 77 year old.
Kerry Walsh Jennings

         Unlike you I take tablets for high blood pressure and cholesterol and I don’t mind taking them for any other problems I might have. I also swallow vitamins by the handful.
Of course you had to add that on your horse breeding ranch Mr Perfect helps mix cement and carry poles.
         I have had three back operations, probably caused by not doing nearly enough sit-ups. It was nothing to do with picking up 50 kg bags when I too was farming I can assure you. As a result the only golf I have played was more like hockey. 
         Currently I climb up on the roof of our house to fix gutters and leaks. I also build walls and generally see to the maintenance.

But I don’t tell the whole world about it.

         I like the way you say, "People who are my age, they’re dead" as if still being alive is another one of your great achievements.
         Has it ever occurred to you Mr Perfect that you might have been lucky enough to come off the assembly line with the right genes and that this is the main reason for your good health with 1 000 sit-ups a day and all that jazz having very little to do with it?
Player is serious
 about Player
         The Old Boy’s section of the magazine of the school I went to has a sort of roll of honour for those who have reached 80 or more. The oldest one in the latest edition is 97 and there are lots of others between him and the 80 year olds.
          I doubt very much whether many of them attribute their longevity to your kind of rigorous exercise regime. So I don’t think you can hold it up as the perfect recipe for a long and ache free life for all of us.
         You say you are a grandfather of 23 as if that was all your own work. But in reality that’s a minus because you have indirectly contributed to over populating an already very crowded world.
         It would seem that you are far from being the ideal person to teach the grandkids that bragging is not the way to behave. If golf was a team sport like cricket or rugby your fellow players would have knocked modesty into you a very long time ago.
  You also promote yourself as an anti-obesity role model because you say this is "an issue of the utmost urgency. You go on to tell us, "If I can encourage today’s youth to focus on health and fitness, I will count that as a great victory."
         All very noble. You hardly need to be a genius or a cultural expert to knock a little ball around, but as a South African, who has paid a few visits to the States, you now seem to think you know what’s good for that entire country.
         The Sunday Times quoted you as saying; "The trouble with Americans is that they don’t appreciate America enough." Of course if anybody should know about this it’s our roving expert on nations Mr Perfect.
        I can't think of a tactful way of saying this Gary so here goes. You are not quite as perfect as you seem to think. In fact you have a huge flaw – your BIG BIG HEAD.
Jon, a well-known shrink who has a sign on his desk which says,
Once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken. 

P.S. Has nobody every mentioned to you Gary that if you have achieved significant things in life everybody knows about them, so you don’t have to keep reminding them every time you appear in the Media. You will no doubt remember two of your most recent modesty gems that you gave The Telegraph about your first British Open win at Muirfield. This was after you hit the headlines when you had the balls to pose nude for ESPN quite contrary to the stuffy dress code of any golf club you have ever been in. Here they are.

        "I walked up to the President a Mr McMaster and told him I was going to win. I was still a long way back and he probably thought I was mad, but I knew I could do it."

       And this is what you recalled 50 years later you told The Telegraph. "Playing with old clubs and the ball of the time I managed to shoot 68 with a double bogey at the end. I thought to myself, 'Gee you must have been pretty good back then.'”  

Kiss to build a dream on

*Note to my Blog Readers:  It’s unlikely that Gary hasn’t told you but just in case you don’t know he won nine major golf tournaments as well as three senior British Opens. He was also the third golfer in history to win the grand slam (all the major titles in the same year) and during his career he triumphed at a total of 165 tournaments in six continents. 

P.P.S. Player(79) in his second childhood showing off like a five year old.
Gary as modest as ever just before the 2016
Olympic Games

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Obama try making friends for a change

Dear Barack Obama old boy,
al-Qaeda chief
         A ragtag group of poorly educated men in turbans and nightshirts are running rings round your good old US of A.
         They’re making a laughing stock of your country that purports to be the greatest one on earth yet has all the
hallmarks of a nation on the slide.
         Do you and your bungling CIA honestly believe that a group that so brilliantly organised 9/11 is now so incompetent that it doesn’t realise that your guys eaves drop on everything?
         al-Qaeda’s chief Ayman al-Zawahiri tells his Yemen leader to do something and you press the nation’s panic button that closes US embassies all over the Middle East.
Don't laugh too soon
Talk about running scared. Talk about encouraging the enemy. Yet the exercise is so insane that the closures were only designed to last for a few days as if al-Qaeda is a robot that once set can’t have it’s timing changed.
         Can American tourists now claim a tax deduction for bullet proof vests when they go abroad because you and previous administrations have made the stars and stripes a symbol of hated, wicked oppression?
         You might as well close all your embassies permanently. They won’t serve any purpose if it’s too dangerous for your citizen’s to travel.
         How about this for an idea? Get your country and the CIA in particular to stop meddling in everybody else’s business. Start a make friends offensive. If it’s half as good as the way you have made enemies it will be a great success.
         Tell me Barack old boy how would you feel if you and Michelle had organised a lavish wedding for your eldest daughter Malia. And while you were celebrating the happy event attended by hundreds of guests a hijacked Spectre gunship appeared overhead and opened up?
A lot of Arabs don't see the joke
         If you were lucky it would perhaps leave only you and Michelle badly wounded but alive while everyone else, including your two lovely daughters would not only be dead, but in many cases so mutilated as to be unrecognisable.
         As you know these AC -130 gunships carry such a formidable array of machine guns and canons that their ghoulish crews brag: Blood bath is our way of getting clean.
The lethal bird of prey
         So if your family was to be at the receiving end of one of these flying mincing machines you would do what you have done to Bin Laden. You would hunt the perpetrators across the world until they were taken out.
         Well that’s exactly what al-Qaeda is doing in retaliation for what you Yanks have done to make friends and influence people among the Arabs. You can’t go around murdering thousands of their men, women and children without encouraging more 9/11s and similar attacks on Americans everywhere.
         Your cowardly gunship crews slaughtered so many people at weddings in Afghanistan that one satirical blogger wrote in 2008: I’d say it’s about time we gave up on the wedding-party bombing strategy. We’ve been following it for over six years now, and things are worse in that country than when we first started bombing it’s weddings.
         On one of these occasions the saturation gunship fire was so great that afterwards relatives were burying pieces of flesh pulled off trees instead of bodies.  Nothing that moved remained alive, cats, dogs, sheep the lot were butchered with their owners.
         Barack why not try making friends instead of gunships. It might keep a lot more people alive and pro USA.
         Yours hopefully,
         Jon, an International Peace Advisor 

P.S. Just a friendly bit of advice. If you ever have to organise a wedding call on a better intelligence service than the CIA to make sure everything goes without a hitch.