From Helkom to Telkom to Arushka

Relationships are a mirror of our selves, a gift to reveal a little more deeply what’s going on. While happy relationships are more fun, unpleasant relationship can reveal more.

Today began with an encounter with the object of my most bitter and unpleasant relationship. Telkom. At the very mention of the name, my face creases into a scowl and my fingers knot and gnarl like a Dickensian rogue.

Most relationships can be ended if they become too destructive. With Telkom, I have been forced to face the mirror for longer than I’d like. I don’t enjoy feeling trapped, but Telkom has kept me smothered in its huge arms no matter how much I wriggled.

I’ve dabbled in mobile, in Iburst, but the long arms of Telkom have always hunted me down.

Like any relationship, Telkom and I have a history. A long history. A long, bitter, unpleasant history. I have sworn (literally) never to go back, never to give them a cent again. Tail between my legs, I’ve headed back each time, thinking surely, this time, they’d have changed.

But expecting the other party in a relationship to change without changing yourself never works, does it?

We’ve been waiting for a year for a phone line and ADSL at our offices in Philippi. So when we were told our alternative arrangements, piggy-backing off someone else, were coming to an end, it was time to face the mirror again.

A year ago, I closed an account with Telkom. They failed to close it properly, so I’ve had to close the account numerous times, on the phone, going into a branch, each time re-informing them that we’d left the premises a year ago, that no calls had been made since then, that I’d ordered the account closed.

The last time was about 4 months ago, and this time I thought they’d got it right. So when, driving to work, I got an SMS from Telkom kindly informing me to contact an attorney to pay my outstanding bill, I got so cross, I missed the turnoff to Phillippi and ended up in Blue Downs.

A simple SMS, innocently sent by a well-meaning employee, got me flying into a rage ready to ram any Telkom truck unfortunate enough to be near me on the road.

What was the mirror showing me?

Not trusting myself to deal with Telkom, I got someone to help get our long-awaited ADSL installed. She phoned them. Impossible, Telkom have no infrastructure in Philippi. She phoned the next day, again, calm and polite. Impossible – they could install a phone line, but ADSL would not be possible, they’d put us on a waiting list.

If it was me, I’d have been raging, ready to bite the operator’s head off.

She phoned again. Were Telkom aware that a nearby organisation that applied long after us had recently got an ADSL installed? No they weren’t, they’d investigate.

She phoned again. Yes, the neighbouring organisation did have ADSL, Telkom said, but they’d had a phone line installed already, so pre-dated us. No, this wasn’t the case. I can imagine myself, if I’d even got that far – “You lying *$@#&@*#&@*s”, slamming the phone down raging at their incompetence. She phoned again, still calm, polite and insistent.

And lo and behold, she happened to get hold of a helpful, competent assistant, who couldn’t believe the nonsense he saw on the account’s history. Of course there was infrastructure. Of course it could be arranged. And an appointment was booked for that week.

They phoned the day before to confirm. They arrived on time, installed the phone line and ADSL, waited for it to be tested to my satisfaction before they left. We had a phone line and ADSL. After a year, a few insistent, polite phone calls got the desired result.

Telkom has been my clearest mirror. Watching this process unfold was quite a revelation for me, and reminded me again of the stupidity of getting angry, especially at an entity!

So, when I woke today after five and a half hours sleep to face a summons from Telkom for the above-mentioned account, it was a chance to practise my new-found approach.

It wasn’t perfect. As I picked up the phone to dial I was ready to rage. But, but the time I got through to Arushka, I’d morphed her from a representative of an evil entity to a person. And, not surprisingly, when one treats a person with respect and patience, they respond much better.

So, has the summons gone away and the account been closed? No, not yet. Perhaps I need a few more opportunities to fine-tune my technique.

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  1. WOW, I wish I had read this before my rage with Nedbank AskOnce customer service centre this morning *blush*, this is great insight often difficult to see in our own bubbles. I will try again tomorrow LOL, and see if I can do better

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