Three wishes

The vast majority of people would wish for more or less the same three things if they ever happened to be cleaning an old lamp and a genie popped out to make them an offer.The three wishes are, of course, for the kind of money that would make Bill Gates and the Sultan of Brunei weep with envy, for mind-blowing sex with either Cameron Diaz and/or Antonio Banderas and for peace in our time. I personally wouldn’t waste my three wishes on such mundane things and I’d even resist the urge to wish the words synergy, fashionista and the phrase ‘at this time’ out of existence or for brain transplants for those who use them.
The first thing I’d wish for would be to wake up one morning to find that Telkom had dried-up and blown away and that British Telecom and another major telecommunications firm had arrived and set up shop overnight. I don’t know about you but Telkom has been the source of more frustration and rage for me than just about any other person or thing. I want to buy my telecommunications from someone who provides cheap telephone calls, a fast cheap Internet connection, and decent service with a dash of commonsense. Telkom, of course, doesn’t do that which is why they’d have to go.
I’m fed up to the back teeth with their high prices and their habit of summarily cutting off your service if you are a day or two late in paying. I have twice been cut off, once after I had already paid them, and this in spite of the fact that we have had an account going on for forty years and have always paid more or less on time. It is true that Telkom has sometimes been innovative and that it has many excellent people but these good folk are apparently not promoted into positions where they can make policy.
My second wish would be for my bank and, for that matter all banks currently represented in South Africa, to go away just as suddenly as Telkom did. Over the years I have had endless frustrations when asking the bank for services I’ve needed and having them tell me that they don’t do things that way. Their whole idea is to make the highest possible profit and they stack the deck against their customers to achieve this. How else could you explain my mum’s recent experience when she went into her branch to stop a cheque and was told that she would be charged for doing so but that she would still be responsible for the amount if it was cashed through the bank’s negligence. Commonsense plays no part in their operation as is shown by their blind refusal to allow you bank cheques where the account name and payee are not exactly the same. I can understand if a bank were to refuse to allow Fred Jones to deposit a cheque made out to Queen Elizabeth in his account but there couldn’t have been any sensible reason to refuse to let our local church deposit a cheque because it had parish written on it on it instead of church.
What gets me the most about our banks is the fact that they don’t even try to make things better for their customers but will willingly spend money on sponsoring events and making those lying-swine television adverts in which they show themselves as caring sharing institutions. Banks can actually be helpful as I found during a recent stay in the UK but ours are not and so they must go. Mind you, I would have to ask the genie to defer granting this wish for a day or two because the pleasure might be too great to bear if I were to get rid of Telkom and my bank in one day.
For my third wish I did consider replacing the SABC with another organisation, preferably the BBC, or having the whole of Durban airconditioned but I think I’d plumb instead for the disappearance of those machines that businesses use to talk to their customers instead of paying real people. I don’t know how much time I’ve spent hanging on to the phone while a machine tells me to press 1 for this or 2 for that but it must be one hell of a long time. Somehow it always happens that none of the options offered apply to the thing I want to ask about and, only too often, there isn’t even the option of talking to a real person.
Fobbing people off with an electronic talking machine is not in line with the maxim that the customer is king and it betrays what these organisations really think of us. Some may feel that there is a case for retaining the machines if they are sensitively used but I think on the whole that it would be better to get rid of them all and get more people into employment.
If my wishes did come true it would improve the quality of my life even more than getting untold wealth, having a fling with Ms. Diaz and not having to worry about Mr. S. Hussein and North Korea. In any case, if the wishes came true, I’d hope that you, my fellow South Africans, would be so grateful that you’d share your money with me and that some of you, at least, would be prepared to sleep with me.


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