My letter to the local municipality regarding my leaking water meter. All names have been change to protect the guilty.
Tshwane Water and Sanitation Department
RE: Leaking Water Meter
Dear Mr B,
It is with much regret that I have taken to writing this letter/email, owing to the amount of time which I have wasted on the above issue to date. I deem it a necessary evil however owing to the inadequacy of service which I have encountered at Tshwane. Following my countless exposures to Telkom’s customer-no-help line, I had believed that this was the absolute rock bottom in terms of god-awful customer relations. How wrong I was. Tshwane’s customer service, or lack thereof, should be a thing of legend and if I hadn’t experienced it for myself I would never have believed that it could exist; a bit like dragons…and hobbits; both of which have eluded me to this day.
Please allow me to provide you with specific details so that you may work towards rectifying and refocussing your operations in an effort to put your clientele first, and restore a level of faith in the municipality. After all, ‘WE’, the general public are the rate payers and despite what you may think internally, ‘customer is king’. I’ve applied this revolutionary thinking to my line of business and it has gotten me far. No one likes bad customer service, unless you enjoy speaking to or dealing with the likes of Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians if you care to use it as an internal training video).
I initially registered my leaking water meter issue with the Tshwane’s service centre on 17 January 2015 after having noted that the hedge adjacent to said meter was looking bushier than its counterparts. The lady I spoke to took down the relevant details, provided me with a reference number and informed me that someone would call to arrange for the issue to be dealt with – all very civilised. Alas, it was all but smoke and mirrors. A few days went by and my meter was still doing its water feature impersonation, and I had received no calls. I telephoned your customer services line again on 21 January 2015 and the agent ‘escalated’ the case after informing me that a ‘Mr D’ from the relevant water services department had been due to attend to the issue on 19 January 2015 – he played truant for the day. I was again informed that someone would call me.
Two days went past – again no telephone call or response from Tshwane. It was now 23 January 2015 and the amount of water which had been wasted by Tshwane’s ineptitude was shameful. In a country where poverty is still rife and running water is not a guarantee for all households, any waste of such a precious resource should be frowned upon. The agent when I phoned the no-help line again escalated the case. I was curious to find out more about this process and asked the agent to explain to me what it meant to ‘escalate’ a case. The escalation notice apparently goes on to the ‘system’ for the correct department to deal with; agents only have email contact with the wizard behind the screen, aka the Wizard of Oz (or Freddie *** and ** du Plessis) if we step back from the precipice of fantasy). I requested to speak to a supervisor, who was conveniently ‘busy’ and couldn’t attend to my call.
Doubtless to say, you are probably no longer reading this letter as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore and/or a crucially important session of Candy Crush to attend to. Frankly, I don’t mind as it’s actually quite satisfying to voice my frustrations in print as opposed to listening to another mind-numbing session of hold music. My therapist also says that it’s good for me to express myself through the written word. Forgive me if I therefore continue.
If you are still reading this, I commend you for your efforts – there is hope for Tshwane yet.
More calls to the no-help line followed: 25th, 28th and 30th January. Disinterested individuals simply placed my call back into the hold queue – I now have the complete hold soundtrack burned into my cerebrum. On the last day I managed to leverage the telephone number for the Region 4 Water and Sanitation office/department from the agent and was told to contact the number (012 358 ****) in order to try to progress my case. The telephone might as well have been sat in an abandoned space station outpost on the moon as it rang without answer throughout the day. I even went as far as to post a message on the Tshwane Facebook page. I must admit, this received a prompt response requesting my ‘exact location and address’ in order to resolve the issue. I’m not sure who would post this level of detail on a public Facebook page, however I provided my case reference number as a response, after which I received no further response.
I telephoned the no-help line again on the evening of the 30 January 2015 and spoke to Jonathan who provided me with your contact details – hence this communication. I still have not received a telephone from the department detailing when they will be available to do the work, however I was reversing down my drive on the morning of 31 January 2015 when I noted a pile of mud in my rear view mirror. I got out to investigate what I thought might have been a mole infestation and noticed that somewhere between returning home at 6pm on 30 January and 7am on the morning of 31 January, the water meter fairy had showed up and removed my water meter. Tshwane did not even have the courtesy to inform me that they would be on site and what the plan of action was regarding the water meter leak.
I’ve attached two photos of the water meter fairy’s handiwork and request that you politely contact me to inform me when the water meter will be returned to my property and what I should do in relation to the water which was lost due to the leak, the volume of which was registered on my meter reading. I do not expect to see my municipal account billed for the water due to your ineptitude. If my bill arrives and I see an above average charge for water, I will probably book myself in for an extended stay at Weskoppies rather than have to deal with your call centre service again. Failing that, this letter may go viral and then self-destruct in 30 second (sorry – Mission Impossible fan).
Whist the contents of this letter/email admittedly contains a slight hint of satire there is a serious underlying message. If everyone followed procedure and took a moment to focus on the customer, the world would be a much better place. To quote Michael Jackson, “Heal the World. Make it a better place….”. Please do your job and make my life a little less stressful.
I can barely contain my excitement in awaiting your response. Hurry! Life is short.