Terrible telco troubles

Last week, I reported that I was about to move to a new house and that I was concerned that I would have no telephone or ADSL connection for the foreseeable future.

The actual move went quite smoothly apart from the heatwave on Sunday and Monday. My computer remained in pieces for quite a few days afterwards because there seemed little point in connecting it up, as I couldn’t use it to communicate anyway.

I did manage to check my e-mail a few times but I missed one important message notifying me of a meeting with a client whom I really don’t want to inconvenience. Being without computer and e-mail was frustrating but I’ll admit that it was quite pleasant, in some ways, to read and watch TV at night with a clear conscience.

I was relieved, after being in the new premises for six days, when Telkom rang up to say that they would be round the following Monday to do the necessary. There was relief but also frustration when the caller couldn’t tell me when on Monday.

I arranged to be free of my and was up bright and early just in case. There was deafening silence until after 9am when a technician phoned to say he’d be over in about half an hour.

He was as good as his word but there was some bad news in that my order had been put through as a transfer and not a new service, as I had intended. I wanted to keep the line at my old place and have an answering machine on it for six months or a year to tell callers my new details.

The techie advised to me to drive in to Telkom’s customer service office in Hillcrest to see what could be done, while he worked his magic on the lines. I was frustrated, but not surprised, to find that I couldn’t get my new phone and ADSL lines that day, and keep my old line.

The best they could offer was a recorded message telling callers my new number but which would only come into effect after 48 hours and would only last for three months. Scared of being shunted to the back of the installation queue, I agreed, but I can tell you that I REALLY hated to have to do so.

I then drove back home and, as usual once the technical guys arrive, the installation went smoothly and I was soon phoning and Internetting away. I was pleased but resentful of the fact that it had taken all that frustration and more than half a day of my time to do the job.

There are many helpful people working for Telkom but they often seem not to be able to obtain a good result for the consumer when it come to other departments in the organisation. There also doesn’t seem to be a mechanism in place to hold staff accountable for mistakes such as, for example, getting my order wrong.

The other problem is that the overall planning for service delivery is not made from the basis that the consumer is king but that we will jolly well take whatever we are given, and be grateful for it.

There is a better way of doing things as I found when I ordered a line from British Telecom (BT) in the wilds of Scotland and was immediately told when installation would take place. The technician arrived dead on time and was gone in half an hour.

The Brits sometimes moan about BT’s service but they have absolutely no idea what bad service is really like. We South Africans, unfortunately, know all too well.

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