Wednesday, August 03, 2011

G-roundup Up and Down

"I would like to purchase the 12 month broadband internet special you have advertised please," I said with a smile to the bored looking sales consultant at a Vodacom outlet in Kimberley.

"I need a copy of your ID book. Proof of residence that is not older than three months.  And copies of your bank statement for three months as well as your most recent pay slip," she replied in monotone.

"Here is my ID document and my electricity bill from this month.  The rest won't be necessary since I am paying cash for the 12 months.  Right up front so no need for a credit check."

"No that is not possible.  I need all those documents because it is the law," she said sternly.

"Ummm no its not the law.  The law does not require me to prove I have a job and show you my bank statement for three months when I'm paying cash.  I'm not applying for credit," I resisted.

"Well it does matter.  You can't pay cash.  You must apply for credit.  The special is for a credit contract only.  So I need those documents and certified too."

I looked deep into my head.  Just moments ago I had stopped into the Telkom offices to find out when they could convert our home land line into an ADSL line and the kind face behind the desk told me she really did not know.

"It could be a month.  It could be two.  Or maybe even longer and close to four," she said with a comment about liking my hair.

"Is it naturally curly or did you get a perm?  Oh you can see how fast an ADSL line is by trying our customer computer over there," she said pointing to the back of me.

I logged on there and checked my emails for the first time since leaving Pretoria and it was not nice.  The emails, that is.  But I just shrugged my shoulders, shook my head, and made peace.

"So OK, I can get you all those documents and we can do it as you say.  Just give me 20 minutes and I will be back," I said to the still very bored Vodacom sales consultant.

"That is fine but it still won't be possible because we off-line and not doing any contracts today or tomorrow," she said pressing against the will of her boredom.

"That makes no sense.  Are you guys in business or looking to get out of business?  Why is it so hard to just get an internet connection?" I asked in frustration.

"I'm just following the rules.  But anyway I just remembered the special deal you referring to ended yesterday so you cannot get that one anyway," she said.

I walked out of the mall and went home where my friend Gary appeared just moments after I tried to find the switch that would turn me off for a day or two so I could recharge my consciousness.

"Boetie (little brother) I have a 3G modem you can use.  Just add a prepaid internet bundle and you OK."

"Really?  It is as easy as that?  I buy an internet bundle and I am good to go?" I asked with the broke down honesty of a child.

"Yep let's go do it now and you can be surfing tonight all you want."

I fired up the BMW I bought moms a few months ago thinking man I should be driving this car and she the VW and steered in the direction of yet another Vodacom outlet.

"Sorry we can't help you guys because our systems are off-line.  Come in late tomorrow and it will be OK to sell you an internet bundle," the attractive sales consultant said as I stared in absolute disbelief.

Late tomorrow came and I went back to Ms. Attractive and she smiled and loaded and I unloaded a wad of cash and headed home.

This morning at 10am there was still no internet bundle to be found so I called their customer service line where a brown voice led me through a maze of uncertainty ending up where I begun.

"You must go back to where you purchased the internet bundle and let them sort it out for you.  We have no record of your transaction and the receipt number you gave me is not on our system," the brown customer service voice said.

So I did.  In zombie mode.

"Please sit down and let me see what the problem is," a young man said at the Vodacom outlet while I squinted in the direction of the attractive consultant in the back of the store.

He fiddled and fiddled and then he asked who sold the internet bundle to me.  I pointed in the direction of the culprit and he called her over.

"Why did you load this customer's internet bundle onto the wrong sim card?" he asked and she denied walking away in a huff.

"I'll fix it for you sir.  She is the reason why it did not work."

"How long will it take?" I asked looking for reason in his eyes and he assured me that he would call me in an hour.

And he did.  And all is good in web access land.

Now the next thing is to figure out why my Pretoria gym is still deducting a monthly membership fee even after I finished my 12 month contract and cancelled in writing a month ago.

"When will you rectify this situation and return my money?" I asked.

"We will get back to you.  Our system is down and I can't find the paperwork where you say you cancelled," the gym voice replied.

My first week back in Kimberley and its like every week anywhere in South Africa.  You spend a lot of time running around doing things that would take an hour in the US and then do it all over again.

But there is also vibrancy.  Sometimes.

"So Professor you will start leading us on Thursday morning then? We can't wait.  Oh we have a deadline to get the book to the printers by the end of October."

"Huh?  Ummm you want me in work on Thursday morning?" I replied looking at the eager research eyes across from me.

Last Friday I quit my job at Salary Hell and I have just about removed all memory of that cesspool from my memory banks.  I was looking forward to chilling for a month at least.  ;0)

I had a nervous breakdown planned.  One where I sleep till late in the day and then watch TV and play with my un-halal dogs until they slobber me up real nice making me even more of an 'unfit and dirty' Muslim.

But alas, there is no rest for the rested.  I guess all that sleep I put into my eyes at Salary Hell will have to do now that I'm chasing a deadline I just found out about.

But I am not complaining dawg.  Well OK I am but you know me well anyHowze.

I'm happy to be home in Kimberley.  It is an ugly town with not much to do but already a grip of my old boys from back in the day have checked in to welcome me home.

It feels new, sorta.  And I like the open acceptance and knowing that the folk around me know me for real, sorta.

Life is good.  A little more than usual.  Moms in the house.  Boys close by.  Internet access.  No racist emails today.  And it's Ramadan.

What more could a man want?

Ramadan Mubarak to all my Muslim sisters and brothers.  And peace to all.



Kweli said...

You've been in the US too long. This Kimberley bureaucracy is how it is most parts in Africa.

I was shocked when I called the Kenyan embassy in DC to renew my passport and the voice on the other end of the phone was as curt with me as any petty government official back home.

About your dogs: only chihuahuas are haram. I just can't stand them. I am sure there is some sura in the Quran against them lol (will have to search the english translation real hard).

Erica said...

Everything seems to be coming together. I have to say that you are far better than I am when it comes to customer service. I would have seriously caught a case with Vodacom.


Ridwan said...

Hello Kweli:

I trust you well brother. I hear you on the service expectations and our continent.

In SA they posture as if we are so called world class but it is not so in most instances.

We get a lot less for a whole lot more and it is so apparent when you step offshore.

Will have to disagree with you on Chihuahuas. I have been around several over the course of my life and they remain my favorite dogs.

The Aztecs and the Mayans considered them to be human or ancestral spirits.

So I don't expect any religious injunction against them anywhere.

In the last few weeks I have been searching to buy a Chihuahua puppy since our girl died while I was in Kenya (a sad day after 11 years of wonderful company).

You sure you not confusing them with that Taco Bell dog? :0)

Be well my brother. I have looked at your blog and need to catch up soon.


Ridwan said...

Erica I would give the world to have you go bat for me at Vodacom.

For real, I want to see their faces after you read them the riot act.

But sadly baby that is how it rolls just about anywhere in this pretend country.

In places people are made to queue over night(s) to get ID documents. Just recently thousands of Zimbabweans living here were forced to queue for days to get extensions on their permits.

Pictures of women and children and the aged standing in line in the dark of night was tragic to see.

In the service arena most of what pretends to be service is just a joke.

You take what you get and do so even after you pay three times more than most other folks do anywhere else in the world.

My monthly internet access bill is about what someone in the US would pay for about six months of access.

And the speeds are so slow that most times you can't even get through youtube videos.

It is very frustrating most times.

Hey I am home from work already ... and it was a great day too.

Very interesting this new track I have taken.

Thanks for the besos :0)

Peace and love,

Nolwazi said...

Remember when you got a big, fat bill for using the internet at work? The University of Village Hell isn't too different from Telkom, Eskom orrrr any ada multilateral gavament parastaytal in South Africa. LoL:D the look on your face that day!

Yep, in SA, you gotta pay yo employer to do yo job, Mfethu! Like it orrr not.

Where are you hustling now, Ridwan? How are Mama and Mita?

Ridwan said...

Hey Nolwazi:

Thanks for looking in and making me laugh again sista.

I do remember that shock and won't ever forget how naive I was.

I'm in Kimberley black. And working with the museum I told you about and it feels great.

A few minutes ago someone from 'salary hell' called me and I did not even recognize their voice.

Yeah I can erase stuff quick like that :0)

I trust you well.

Will holla on your land line to catch up.

Peace sista,