DAY 85 October 24 The paralegal mediator calls me back, apparently the landlord wants me to pay for the infrastructure upgrade at his own building. I must spend money. I explain my compromise solution, it entails getting Telkom to wire a cable from their pole along the same route as the ubiquitous DSTV system, whose cabling is all over the place, giving the lie to the purported desire to maintain the building’s aesthetics.
In my humble opinion, the Telco should have at least done its job in the move Dept, by alerting all parties concerned and sending at very least a pro forma letter explaining its position on providing services to its clients. The property owner’s attempt to restrict choice in service provider and thus also to troll the installation of same into my own account are unlawful to say the least. Our country has a Bill of Rights guaranteeing free and unhindered communication. There is an End User Services Charter, a communications regulator ICASA and dare one say an urgent need to draft consumer protections and building codes for private communications, that aren’t merely a rehash of how big business view their clients as cash cows, and thus a road to servitude and vasselship?
The much vaunted Cell C “Free Whatsapp” deal turns out to be phony. I go back to the store to get a copy of the advertising material, yes there are terms and conditions, in minuscule 5 point type on the flyer, it appears the ‘free deal’ was initially for only 600mb, but in the infinite magnanimity of the corporation, the bundle expires every month and must thus be renewed monthly. It appears my whatsapp messages have also been frozen for nearly a month. I recharge once again and notice that some digital signage flashes on my smartphone (read dumb trick) screen for about half a minute, supposedly explaining this phenomena. The promotion is nothing more than an advertising stunt to get customers to switch to a Cell C SIM and is pretty much in the same league as the Yemeni immigrant charging R5.50 for a R5 Vodacom voucher.
DAY 88 October 27 The government announces it is selling its stake in Telkom. Does this mean the end of the copper-cable monopoly? Miraculously I find that a Virgin Mobile Sim provides free wifi and free Virgin to Virgin calls if you simply recharge
once month every five days. A far better bonus deal in theory, than the rigmarole of Cell C. Meanwhile I tune in my cellphone radio to catch some of the news. The SOE deal will Rob Peter to Pay Paul. ESKOM debt is big enough to swallow large portions of the nation’s future wealth, in return, a highly inefficient energy behemoth will guarantee that we ramp up CO2 emissions. That nuclear seems to be off the table for now is small consolation. I am still without access to popular sites: Hackaday, Youtube, Amazon, Daily Maverick.
DAY 92 November 2, 2017 surprise surprise, Almost 100 Days after I requested to move my landline from Woodstock to Muizenburg, the telephone line is now operational. I have been given a new telephone number. The bearded Telkom technician has finally installed the copper line via the conduit as he was supposed to, without the help of religious texts and sans the elaborate detour created by the intervention of the electrician from Zim who no longer works for the landlord. All it took was a manly meeting between the landlord and the technician to arrive at an acceptable brief. Then a bit of prodding by myself after the technician proposed several unacceptable “gippo options” before finally plumbing the conduit, hauling the line and actually doing his job without taking a break for daily religious victuals.
A bit of a mountain really created out of a molehill and no need to invest further money building infrastructure to drive spend, than what is absolutely necessary. A big lesson here is that gaining legal consent and navigating cultural differences in the new South Africa is a total pain in the %^&* , and too much delegation can ruin management if all that happens is that unnecessary work and extra spend is being generated. On the down side, I am still without Internet access following the billing debacle and both corporates need to still be tackled in order to reverse the damage of a three month drama. Significantly, Telkom have simply taken over my DSL
Telkom have not bothered to provide any details such as logon information for their compulsory ADSL services. I am expected to ferret out the password to access my data on the plan I never ordered. I am expected to provide my own modem and my own telephone in what can only be described as an obscene plan to extract rental from my bank account. If this is socialism, don’t kill yourself searching for the last communist in the country.
DAY 94 November 4. I am finally online, courtesy of Web Africa, whose free 1Gb + 1Gb account is saving my weekend. I am strangely emotional and overwhelmed by having access to the World Wide Web and sans the Internet Cafe Taxi. I try to get back to just surfing without bothering with the basics of email and social media. It is Youtube which has been most absent in these past months.
DAY 99 November 7 A lady with an eerie creaky voice calls from Telkom to tell me that the charges for previous two months have been reversed. I could swear the other irate Tannie is her sister. She probably gargles with Klippies in the morning. I have yet to recoup the money lost to MWEEB, although a part credit for line rental for October has now been generated. A silky smooth voice in MWEEB accounts dept, confirms the problem. I pen yet another email explaining that since the line reverted to Telkom in September, the credit note should be for two months, in addition, since I have had no means of accessing data without a line for three months, the payments for three months should be reversed in total. I duly begin to fill out a complaint form provided by ICASA. There is a glimmer of hope and it is the abundance of fibre options coming our way, see here. If only the operators could figure out how to provide ‘voice and data’ plans to once and for all end the insanity of two communications bills, the fiction of DSL line rental.
DAY 106 November 16 I relog a dispute for the fifth time, after Telkom short-changes me. The credit is less than one month billing. The company appears to have cut my voice services after a request for my DSL to be ported to another service provider. I also fill out a complaint form for the Consumer Complaints Commission in regard to MWEEB.
DAY 110 November 20 I finally have full refund and my Telkom account shows a positive balance. Still no voice service. The entity has also sent me the ‘cancellation of services’ form which should have been emailed to begin with. Somebody needs to explain to the mandarins in charge they need a better “move” protocol.