While the news has been full of Eskom's massive failings, the pressure has been off Telkom for a while – and it seems to have seized the opportunity to make itself as difficult as possible to do business with.
When a colleague received a mail last week informing her that she had exceeded her ADSL cap by more than 380%, she immediately phoned the call centre to find out what had happened.
It turns out that the usage has been coming from locations other than her's – ADSL is a fixed line, so it's fairly obvious to anyone that her account is being hijacked by a third party – possibly even someone with access to Telkom's user records.
However, the call centre operator – it took well over an hour for the call to be answered, so my colleague made sure to get as much information as possible in this first call – informed her of what to do (report the matter to the police, make a statement, get a case number, call the Telkom Abuse line with the case number, change the password – and buy additional bandwidth so she can continue working, even though it's patently obvious the original bandwidth was stolen.
Incidentally, while on this call, usage on the account rose to more than 420% above the cap.
The process of being able to continue working is quite a convoluted one, but my colleague – who needs access in order to make a living – complied with all the steps required: purchased new bandwidth (the money was debited out of her account immediately) and hung on at call centres for several more hours to change her password.
Needless to say, four days later she is still unable to access the Internet, not even the sites that Telkom says are still available.
And, despite spending more than eight hours altogether phoning the various call centres (most of that spent waiting for calls to be answered), she has still not spoken to anyone who can either get her reconnected or initiate an investigation into who is stealing her bandwidth – about 8Gb over her cap having been used so far.
When an operator finally transferred her to a manager this morning, the call was cut off. Not surprisingly, none of the people who have guaranteed to call her back have done so.
The most frustrating part of this saga, of course, is the fact that users are so disempowered by the process – they are simply at the mercy of service providers who don't inspire confidence that they're doing their best to resolve any issues. On top of the frustations that Eskom has been causing for the last couple of weeks, poor service from Telkom could be one straw too many.