Dear Telkom, consumers deserve better service

Image sourced from Wikipedia
Image sourced from Wikipedia

Dear Telkom,

You are South Africa’s foremost telecommunications provider. But despite this, your services remain deplorable. I cannot for the life of me fathom how in this day & age of competition, you choose to remain so laid back and do little in terms of customer service. A lot of this, I imagine, can be attributed to the fact that you are the market leader. But this has little to do with the services you provide and a lot to do with the fact that you were the sole service provider for a very long time. Not to mention that you are partially government-owned. You have had the first mover advantage so far. But more and more people are settling for cellular alternatives. So it might be in your best interest to wake up.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in SA, will know what a night mare it is to deal with you. I went through a manic time, two years ago when we moved to Joburg and decided to get a Telkom ADSL connection at home. It took you THREE weeks to get the line sorted and running, not to mention the constant followups and calls that I had to make. Who takes 21 days to provide a connection? Not like you had to actually ‘lay’ new cables since everyone in my neighborhood uses Telkom.

Anyway, that was two years ago and I hoped I would never have to deal with you again or if I did, things would have become better. But alas, such is life or Murphy’s law – anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. So here I am, writing this letter after a week of no service.

Last Monday, the strom took out my internet and after fault reporting and some Twitter bashing (you are really good and prompt when caught on social media!), I had a technician visit my house on the third day. I agree that it is not possible to attend to all faults immediately so I was happy to wait. But things would have been ok, in fact good, if things had ended here. The technician told me that the modem was busted and had to be replaced. Now, why would you not consider giving your technical support replacement modems when they are out fixing faults? What is the point of sending a person, only half equipped to deal with the problem? What good is it to a customer to know that the line is working when she still cannot use the internet!

Ok, I am even willing to let this go – that you cannot let the tech carry modems and customers must procure one themselves. So I went to the Telkom store nearest to me. After a long wait –  based on my experience, on an average, it takes at least 15 mins of queuing up in your stores, before one can be helped – I reached the head of my queue. Having explained my problem, the lady told me she would like to help, but the store had NO STOCK! I thought I had not heard her correctly – but she really meant that a store that provided internet connections had no modems in stock. Imagine my surprise. Because to me, what good is a store if it had nothing to sell!

Apparently, the only stock they had received were of cell phones. So either people were already switching to other internet providers which is why there was no demand for modems and hence no need for stock. Or you believe that if anyone is desperate enough to get a Telkom line, deserves to wait until you decide it’s time to sort it out.

So I waited – to hear from the lady at the store who had assured me that she would let me know as soon as stocks arrived, as well as from your people who man Twitter. I had asked them to check if the other store in the area had any modems that I could go and collect. After 1.5 days of waiting, and no response from either, I decided to check out the other store myself. Is it not surprising, even to you, that you are unable to find out the stock availabilities in your own stores? Apparently, the guys were trying to contact the said store even while I was there, exchanging my equipment.

I received a reply shortly after that, telling me that the store had been finally contacted and they were keeping aside a modem for me. BUT, I needed to collect it the very same day as they couldn’t hold it longer than that. Now, while I appreciate what you did for me, it was you who caused me all the inconvenience. So the least you could do is hold the device for a few days. Contrary to what you believe, most people do have real jobs and may not be in a position to drive to all the Telkom stores in their area at such short notice.

So really, it is time you woke up and started to figure some basic stuff out. You are a service provider for which consumers pay a hefty fee. Can we please have some service now?



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