Tax­man tops the pile while Telkom sim­ply tor­ments us

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING -

DEAL­ING with paras­tatal or­gan­i­sa­tions is, at the best of times, painful. And when they use tax­pay­ers’ money on ads to try to per­suade peo­ple they are do­ing a good job, it is like salt be­ing thrown into the wounds.

This week’s col­umn is a tale of two dif­fer­ent kinds of pain at the hands of two very dif­fer­ent paras­tatals.

Yet, in­ter­est­ingly, it is the one which causes me the most ac­tual ( fi­nan­cial) pain which gets the Or­chid.

I have pre­vi­ously awarded the SA Rev­enue Ser­vices (Sars) Or­chids for its “tak­ing the eish out of tax­a­tion” cam­paign, and the wrap-up TV ad – which thanks tax­pay­ers for com­ply­ing and fill­ing in their tax re­turns – is more of the same.

The whole cam­paign sets the right moral tone – pay­ing your taxes is the right thing to do – but at the same time em­pha­sises the Sars car­rot- and- stick ap­proach: don’t do what you should and you will cer­tainly feel the “eish”.

But it is also hum­ble in thank­ing peo­ple and re­mind­ing them what their money can be used for: schools, hos­pi­tals, ba­sic ser­vices (let’s not worry too much about the odd pres­i­den­tial jet or hi-tech sub­ma­rine).

So, even though I am look­ing at a R9 000 tax bill (eish!) I some­how don’t mind. It’s what I owe. It’s my duty to pay it.

And at least Sars said thank you. For that, it gets an Or­chid from me.

Al­most in the same TV ad break, there was a nice feel-good ad which, in any other week, might well have got an Or­chid.

It showed a ru­ral school with young pupils tak­ing their first steps into the ter­ri­fy­ing world of ed­u­ca­tion – learn­ing that “A is for ap­ple, B is for banana”.

The ad was for Telkom, punt­ing how its tech­nol­ogy is help­ing pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties into the eco­nomic main­stream.

The prob­lem for me was that when I watched I shouted at the TV screen: “And what about C is for Cus­tomer?”

Since Novem­ber 7, we have been try­ing to get Telkom to re­store our tele­phone and ADSL line to its full func­tion­al­ity. It’s ei­ther been to­tally dead all day or, more re­cently, has de­vel­oped the strange habit of dy­ing in the af­ter­noon be­tween lunchtime and about 6pm.

No amount of

of­fi­cial fault re­ports, shout­ing at the poor peo­ple in the call cen­tre, or even ac­cost­ing a re­pair team in the street out­side (they were fix­ing an­other fault and had no idea we had a prob­lem… great or­gan­i­sa­tion) has done any good.

Ev­ery day we come home in the af­ter­noon to a dead phone. As the sun sets, the line mys­te­ri­ously comes back on.

(And I have to won­der, se­ri­ously, whether Telkom has a “load shed­ding” pol­icy where it shuts off lit­tleused sub­ur­ban lines when the pres­sure gets too much.)

The prob­lem is that no one at Telkom is lis­ten­ing to us when we com­plain, ei­ther by phone (when the line works, but more of­ten us­ing ex­pen­sive cell­phone air­time) or on the in­ter­net (ac­cessed cour­tesy of a Cell C data bun­dle).

The more we have to con­tact Telkom us­ing its com­peti­tors’ ser­vices, the more we won­der whether we shouldn’t just ditch it al­to­gether.

And the re­ally sad part of this story is I know many of you Telkom cus­tomers read­ing this will have had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences.

So, in award­ing you an Onion for the salt- in- the- wound TV ad, Telkom, let me of­fer the fol­low­ing sug­ges­tion: C is for cus­tomer; C is for change (as in net­work); C is for cel­lu­lar; C is for Cell C.

And if you carry on as you have been, it won’t be long be­fore C also stands for cat­a­strophic col­lapse of com­pany.

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