Dear Editor

Something’s terribly wrong at Telkom

On the 18 April we contracted for a Telkom internet package at seemingly good rates – just the product for a small business that uses the internet for marketing.

Problems started on 29 April when I received an sms stating our account was in arrears. I informed them that my contract debit date was the last day of the month. As no debit had yet been submitted by Telkom, our account could not be in arrears.

They admitted it was an error, the result of a “system problem”.

Fast-forward to 29 May: a repeat performance, again the excuse of a system error. The month-end debit had been submitted and met. Annoyed, I went to the Canal Walk branch and was advised you cannot “speak to, or get a face-to-face” with anyone in accounts – the branches only sell phones and data time.

18 August: Our internet is cut; no SMS or email advising of a problem. A comedy of errors gets going:
• 08:47 called 081180 (call 10 min): Molapi advised our account was in arrears, as the debit has been returned. She advised I pay, then email proof.

• 09:05 called FNB (20 min); no debit had been submitted by Telkom. Our account was in good standing.

• 10:30 drive 10km to Canal Walk Telkom. William cannot help, but if I pay inarrears@ABSA and bring him proof, this will be sent to “Accounts”.

• 10:45 drive 5km to ABSA Montague Gardens (Canal Walk closed for renovations) and pay.

• 11:00 5km back to Telkom branch, give William copies of bank statement proving sufficient funds and no debiting of debit order reflecting as well as proof of payment, which he e-mails to Molapi and Accounts.

• 12:04 10km back home, also sent email with required proof!

• 13:30 still no internet. Called 081180. Bongani promised to escalate the matter.

• 14:30 called 081180, Vuyiswa promised to escalate matters.

• 16:19 called 081180, Sakhile, promised to get someone to phone me; Meantime email him with details.

Telkom boasts that if you cannot escalate, ask to speak to a manager – both of which I requested, to no avail.

19 Aug: Still no internet, repeat yesterday’s process at further cost;
• 10:46 Canal Walk, see William again, who apologises and resends bank statement and proof of payment.

• 10:52 While in store I also resend bank statement/proof of payment.

• 11:51 Back home; still no service!

• 14:55 Msg from Telkom: service restored! Joke’s on me: my internet still not connected. I advised sender.

• 16:35 sent another msg advising internet still not active – no response.

• 18:00 still not connected – obviously weekend, so who cares!

20 August still no internet.
• 11:22 received mail from Shaun Smith requesting the “number” involved, even though my account number’s on all communications.

21 Aug: Still no internet.
• 09:57 mail from Shaun Smith advising the account was active on their side and suggesting that I reboot. I do this for the umpteenth time with no success, which I advised in my reply!

22 Aug: More costs, as decided to Uber to Canal Walk. I explained my dilemma. At last someone who knew what he was doing!

Marcel explained that the unit loses all settings when rebooted – information that is on the underside of the unit. This should have been pointed out to me at date of sale as well as the availability for downloading of an “app” for the management of the unit’s settings (which he promptly did on my phone).
All was as it should be and 20 minutes later I was on my way!

• 15:16 received email advising me to reboot… Clearly Telkom staff have no knowledge of their product operating procedures and need extensive training. Telkom’s non-return of calls, inability to speak to the accounts department, or to escalate to any form of management, is further evidence of the shockingly poor service.

It will be a cold day in hell before Telkom offers to reimburse me for all my time, travelling, parking, data and phone costs, to try to resolve their shoddy service issues. Future clients need to be aware of this when dealing with a business that is too big to care for its client base.

AG Smedy
Cape Town

♦ Maybe you could assist the public and find out why Telkom does not answer many of their service numbers. Try them yourself to see what I mean! I spent numerous half-hours, trying to raise their new products/queries department.

Their Worcester branch number rings for a long time, then a machine answers, “We are attending to walk-in customers, sorry.” So we all have to drive there or go to other offices personally to get attended to?

If you dial 10217 you get: “Due to large call volumes, there may be a long delay in answering”. You bet! I gave up after 30 minutes. Then “blah, blah, blah… try community.telkom.co.za” – a nightmare to get registered first. “Try 1023” – only answers sometimes, or you get a “beep”. “Call 10210 for a voice mail problem” – no reply. Or 10120 to change your voice mail. For: “If you want to record your message, press 1”, and I press 1, it repeats the option. After the second time, I press 1, it does not give me the option to record but responds: “you did not record your message. Please…” Duh?

Does Telkom need more staff (money?) or simply more competent staff? What’s becoming of our services in South Africa?


♦ I write this primarily as a cathartic but also with the thought that, were you ever to run out of ideas, this may provide inspiration of a sort.

I have recently had a telephone line repaired by Telkom. It was a quick job necessitated by squirrels having nibbled the phone lines. For the first two weeks Telkom said that there was a problem in the area and that I should be patient. My “squirrel” explanation fell on deaf ears so I bided my time. Thereafter I phoned – up to twice a day – to get someone to come out, each call entailing 30 minutes of waiting. After getting no joy at the level of the operators, I was put through to managers at various times and a strange undercurrent of “there are issues there…” kept rearing its head, followed inevitably by no action. I even stood in a queue at Telkom in Claremont for an hour to see if that would force the pace a bit. The fellow there was most helpful and showed me the streams of calls and escalations that had been logged on the system, to no avail. Eventually I was “blessed” with a name and a number of one of the senior technicians. After another week of begging, someone came and fixed the line.

Early on I had got the impression there was something wrong at the technicians’ department, more than just “too busy to come out right now”. And when my wife asked the technician who eventually came, he was a bit guarded, but a cup of coffee helped him to warm up. Close to tears, he spent half an hour telling her about the old hands that have the institutional knowledge that keeps the train on the tracks, even if it is held together by plasters rather than bolts, but they are under the impression that Bidvest’s ascension into Telkom’s corporate domain will be catastrophic, since Bidvest are intent on getting rid of the older staff to avoid having to pay out pensions at a later stage. I have no doubt that any enquiries will be met with vociferous denial followed by a manhunt.

Whether true or not, what is incontestable is that the system seems to be following the Post Office, Eskom and others into a death spiral. Perhaps we should be looking outside the country for the best of the best to manage these systems – an outsider free of the baggage that constrains South African contenders.

We are already paying eye-watering salaries to the incumbents, so we can easily afford to procure people with the right credentials. The success of turning these institutions around would mean money in the bank for them – and votes for the ANC.

James Gibson

♦ Thank you for publishing my letter (nose203) about my battle with Telkom. On 25 September I received the following email from one of the characters in the tale:

Good afternoon
Kindly accept my sincere apology
for not reaching me through the phone. I have revisited your
complaint and the penalty that
was charged @ amount of
R1430.60 has been reversed,
DSL credited from 2016/03/23
to 2016/09/11 and interest.
Please call me between 07:30 to 16:30 from Mon to Fri.
Kind regards,
Ncumisa Ntlemeza
God bless.

Shortly afterwards I was contacted by Telkom’s legal department – who had advised me on 17 August that they were investigating my case – to say they were now to settle the remainder of my claim in full.
(In typical Telkom style, I was then invited to rate the legal department’s service via a URL that does not work.)

I have not missed an issue of Noseweek. The world needs this kind of publication.

Simon Milliken

Good riddance to MPs

I must admit that I used to be bitterly against the laager mentality of Gautengers, who believe Africa revolves around their “Money capital of Africa” hub; so Parliament should relocate from Cape Town to their Cash, Status & Crass Materialism province viz. Gauteng. However, I have seen the light: it is going to be most cost-effective for taxpayers once MPs’ travel and accommodation costs, psychological and emotional wellbeing etc are taken into account.

Since Cape Town is not short of freethinkers, Parliament and its precinct could be put to good use after it is sold or rented out. I suggest we use part of it to establish a second stock exchange, a major private library etc.

The sooner the status-conscious shallow and fickle are concentrated in one place (Gauteng), the better for the rest of us who have the ideas/faith/passion to add real value to this country and its populace.

Luyanda Marlon Kama
Kwa-Dwesi, Port Elizabeth

Castlepines: victim not villain

Why did your reporter not question Andre Botha as to who Castlepines Global Equity (nose205) engaged to conduct a Due Diligence (DD) report on whether “Castlepines’ funding criteria” had been met or not?
 The letter of engagement clearly states that our money will be used for a DD by appointed tax and legal advisors – which never took place. He must provide proof that the tax advisors and legal advisors were actually appointed – and that they were paid.

And did you have to embarrass Prof Girish Modi by suggesting he must have “had a brainstorm” to fund the DD? A professional man of good reputation, he is the victim, not the perpetrator.

 Unlike my “nemesis”, I am not the GM of a Global Equity Funder, who suspiciously does not have an office. I work for myself, from home; my business cards do have my address. I am fully contactable and traceable.

Geoffrey Freeman

Jack Lundin replies:
I did put these obvious questions to Castlepines’ CEO Andre Botha, in writing, and also asked to see
their consultants’ report to trustees.
Space constraints precluded
publication of his full response. He stated that the fees for the due diligence report were disbursed
“in accordance with the written letter of engagement”, but refused to show Noseweek the DD report
he alleged had been obtained because “reports to trustees are internal, private documents and we have no obligation to share them with the media”.
Not satisfactory – but then, when I asked you for sight of the “commitment in writing” that you said you’d received from the Industrial and Chemical Bank of China for your proposed Mozambique development, you, too, terminated our interaction and advised me that “no more information will be forthcoming”. An equally unsatisfactory answer.


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