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U3A Writing: Frustration, Anger And Joy

Jane Leitch tries a little self-help to sort out a telephone problem.

ďTelkom. Iím here to check your phone,Ē the voice informed me at 2:30pm last Saturday. Is this service or is it not?

NOT. It has been eight days since I had reported the fault.

As I was far from home and had been assured that I would be called prior to the visit, I had no hesitation in accepting his offer to come back on Sunday.

Sam of the pleasant smile, checked the phones in a matter of minutes, and assured me that he had corrected a fault on an outside box and that all was well.

ĎWhy, oh why, did I let him go then?í Iíve asked myself many times.

I pointed out a jack that should have been condemned two years ago when it was installed. Had I left it hanging as they had, it would have been broken long ago. Prestik, glue, masking and Sellotape have all been used at various times to keep it from swinging by the fine wires suspended from the wall. Every so often it falls off taking with it half the paint. Not a pleasant sight. So, since I had the man there, I asked him to do something about it. Opening his large case full of everything but what he needed, he commiserated, said I could leave it suspended with the help of a bit of Prestik. Then he departed; his work completed.

I decided to touch up the wall with paint, and proceeded to try to get some of the gunge off the jack. Then it happened; one of the wires snapped and with it went the bedroom and study phones.

I completely over-reacted, it was as if a major disaster had happened. Telkom ĎFaultsí, to my surprise, was open. I poured out my story in hysterics, asked for the man to come back and sort it out, and was assured they would try, and would call me back. Of course, there was no call, so after more pleading from me, I got a supervisorís name and instructions to phone first thing in the morning.

Carte Blanche featured a very unflattering program on Telkom that night, which not surprisingly I agreed with 100%!

I learned that you can never contact the person you first called, as itís a communal help line and supervisors are as rare as henís teeth. Everyone was helpful and sympathetic to my cause, but what could they do, it must be so difficult dealing with irate customers when the service is so bad. Mind you, there arenít many people whose phones were working on the arrival of a technician and two hours later were dead.

Monday morning was grey and miserable as I started my search for a supervisor.

DGBC, DF#AB was now a familiar sound, and I knew there was no point in pressing. I was instructed, until we had been through the four options including Telkomís wonderful new offers to keep their customers happy.

My fourth call was answered by a male whose first language was English. To my pleas for a superintendent he assured me that he could help me just as much as they could, and proceeded to do his counselling bit, talking me through my problems, calming the rising hysteria in my voice, unable however to assure me of an imminent rescue visit. He did mention that it was so frustrating as all that was needed to restore the dial tone, was to rejoin the broken copper ends.

What copper ends? Then the penny dropped. Of course, under the insulation there must be wires. How dim of me not to notice.

I felt a surge of hope as one of my major problems was that the computer modem was due to be replaced that afternoon. Yes, that had also died on Thursday; it ever rains but it pours, doesnít it?

Assured by Bradley that I wouldnít electrocute myself, I set off on my mission. Armed with a magnifying loop, a scalpel and forceps, the microscopic surgery began as I curled up at an angle to the floor, wedged against the bed. My fingers seemed so large in comparison to the tiny short wires I had to deal with, extreme patience was called for, as one wrong move and the wire would be too short to connect. Gentle twisting and turning, the job was eventually completed, and the joy when I heard the dial tone in the two phones had to be experienced to be believed. I was ecstatic with the feeling of relief and achievement that engulfed me.

Perhaps I should suggest that the help line instructs clients to do a bit of DIY, as without it I would still be a blundering mass of incompetence. But what is more important, I must not allow modern technology to take over to this degree. After all, there was a life before the internet, wasnít there?

Lastly, Iím taking bets as to how long an urgent Telkom call will take. Is there anyone interested in joining me?

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