Thursday, 12 August 2004

parastatals we have to hate

a world without inefficiency would be a violent violent place. all the pent up frustration that we could take out abruptly and violently on each other in the early days of evolution, whether over food or mates or the sunny spot under the thorn tree, now need to be channelled towards bureaucracy and parastatals, or else we’ll go mad. luckily for us, these priests of the anti-excellence are playing along and giving us enough things to freak out about. the only problem is we can’t kick them in the teeth or balls, grab them by their neck hairs, dig our knuckles into their scalps, or shove them off a branch. because they sit in call centres and listen talk radio while answering our calls. and they do it because else they will freak out and go postal for every scripted “how can i be of excellent service to you today?” they have to utter.

no prizes for guessing who i’m writing about. you probably know by now which offending monopoly that so offends us in such an offending manner i’m referring to. the call centres reference did it, otherwise 50% of people might have chosen SAA. and i’m not yet part of the sentech-hating crowd that seems to spew forth everywhere these days like those little flying data bits on their tv-add (i still contend the image of those flying bits will scare off privacy-minded people). no, my radar is aimed at the archetype, the oldest and baddest piece of monopoly service that this country knows: telkom.

so, here follows the abridged version of my experience in applying for an ADSL line (it has come to the point where i suspect mweb is modelling its business approach on that of telkom):
- quite some time ago, i applied online to telkom for ADSL
- telkom phoned me to get my details, only to inform me right at the end of the conversation that i have owed them R115 since 1998 and i need to pay up first (why now?)
- so i left it at that and paid the 115
- i applied again online. nothing happened
- i phoned them: “sorry sir, no application was received”
- so i applied again while on the phone and they again asked me all the questions i completed online about my pc’s compatability. that’s ok, i can handle that. it’s cool, I say
- i got my reference number and waited for their promised fax which i have to sign to confirm the application
- the fax didn’t arrive initially so i whistled a ditty and eventually after three additional calls to the ADSL call centre, it arrived the next day two hours after the last call
- the “acceptance” form faxed to me turned out to be the exact same one i completed over the web, and the exact same one i gave information for over the phone: “how big is your harddrive? do you have usb?”
- i phoned again, saying HUH? loudly (actually it made me think of the way Seinfeld yells when he’s excited, sort of a high-pitched, yet monotone: BUT I ALREADY COMPLETED THE FORM OVER THE PHONE YESTERDAY! AND ON THE INTERNET TWICE! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?)
- i was informed yes ok maybe, but you have to complete it again.
- what about my reference number i asked? that should show i’ve provided that information already: “no sir, that’s for you to fill in on the form when you fax it back.”
- so i asked “fill it in where? there were it says For Office Use Only?”
- “yes sir”

maybe i should stop here. my eyes are getting watery and i’m searching the trees for the closest ape to bash and flash my shiny ass at. i’ve always been willing to entertain the notion that the bad name (some) parastatals have, are to an extent overinflated urban legendry. but i’ve now adjusted my point of view. i think the horror stories we hear are part of a leaked telkom strategic plan and those were the strategic objectives. so they're actually one of the best performing companies in the world – they’re attaining their vision: “frustrate the hell out of people. get them to bang their heads against walls and break their toes against table legs. because we guard the progress of evolution. without us, that anger will have no focus, will be unguided. if we don’t channel it into a deep deep pit of tinny panflute muzak, what will we end up with? a bunch of apes.”

some inspiration for this. and the amazon review. and another review. it's a good book.

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