News Column

Telecom At Wits' End With Internet

August 15, 2014



THE "Statement by the Board and Management of Telecom Namibia on the service Delivery Backlog" and Franz Kafka's The Castle refers (The Castle is often understood to be about alienation, bureaucracy, the seemingly endless frustrations of man's attempts to stand against the system, and the futile and hopeless pursuit of an unobtainable goal - Wikipedia).

A full page advertisement under the above-mentioned heading appeared in your newspaper on Wednesday, 30 July 2014. It details the chaotic circumstances at Telecom that have led to customers being without phone or internet services for up to 30 days.

It lists the operational strategies meant to improve customer service, outlines the reporting channels and offers words of gratitude to the long-suffering public.

The declaration states that this public airing of Telecom's long-standing problems and the assurance that they will be rectified is based on a workshop held between 1 and 3 April, 2014 - four months ago - and refers to, inter alia, damage caused by the recent rainy season - which ended three months ago.

On reading this piece of puffed-up blah-blah, I am underwhelmed by the sense of urgency it expresses and less than impressed by the lightning speed with which the board and management of this SOE (no doubt, highly paid) have followed-up on this mind-boggling state of affairs.

I hardly feel reassured about Telecom's stated ability and professed corporate will to put into place all the strategies set out in the statement and to deal with my (repeated and regular) problem of lack of or low-functional/intermittent internet connectivity) that had, once again by chance, struck on that very same day.

After repeatedly phoning the numbers provided for customer service and listening to (scratchy) music (I like the Vivaldi...it adds a classy touch....) for extended periods of time ("we are experiencing high volumes of calls"... I wonder why...), I finally talked to a human being at the other end of the line.

I'm given a reference number, but no indication of when I might receive any technical support. In the course of the next day, I phone to follow-up. I'm referred to a supervisor.

She does not answer her line at any point. By this stage I'm getting to know the names and voices of all the various call centre women (no doubt, under-paid). They remain calm and listen to my increasingly agitated story.

I assure them I know they are the buffer for the Telecom "higher-ups" and my problem is not their fault and I thank them for their patience. Once again, they promise to take it up with their elusive supervisors.

In the course of my conversations with the Telecom "frontliners", I am able to establish that the technical staff works from 9:00-16:00 on weekdays only.

I re-read the newspaper statement, see the reference to the Senior Manager: Corporate Communications and Public Relations (great title, promising accountability and responsiveness) and attempt to phone him (after all, he has invited my questions...). I can't e-mail him, of course, because my internet is down. His phone stays engaged and unanswered. He is unreachable.

Finally, when I'm becoming almost apoplectic, as there's no progress whatsoever, I'm referred to an operations manager for my area (friendly, helpful). He promises to have the technicians come out the next morning....(it's 4:30pm, the guys have gone home). My hopes are raised.

The following day (I'm travelling out of town), I'm phoned to be told that the problem has been fixed (the line speeds in the sub-station have been "upped"...restored to what they should be/what we're paying for...). I'm thrilled and deeply grateful to the technician (no doubt, under-paid).

On my return this weekend, the problem has returned (if it ever went away...). I am livid.

Eventually, on Monday morning, after five days of being without internet connectivity, a technician (knowledgeable, professional) arrives and deals with the problem (related to the modem supplied by Telecom).

Telecom, my "preferred and high-performance ICT service provider of world-class standards": Customer-centric. Results-driven. Forward-looking. Really?

A Kafkaesque state of affairs, indeed.


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Source: AllAfrica


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