My Letter to Tshwane Municipality

My letter to the local municipality regarding my leaking water meter. All names have been change to protect the guilty.

When you dream...dream big

When you dream…dream big

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.

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“Traffic lights not working on the corner of…”


After a number of years living in South Africa I, like many, have come to realisation that traffic lights or ‘robots’ as they are locally known, don’t work as well as they should. Faulty signals take up a hefty portion of the daily radio traffic reports and are about as commonplace as the faithful pothole in and around Pretoria and Jo’burg. Many have come to accept that they are a part of everyday South African life…but then again, why should anyone just have to accept this? Lead SA! Taxes are there for a reason…as are the lights (in most instances!). Either stop the cowboys from installing them in the first instance, or fix them so that they don’t break as often. Continue reading

My Daniel Craig Moment

Home Affairs Torture Tactics

3 years in South Africa has flown by, however this momentous juncture is not a cause for celebration, but rather tribulation as with it comes the expiry of my Quota Work Permit mid April 2012. The date is just around the corner and it has been causing me a number of sleepless nights, due mainly to the centrality of Home Affairs in the proceedings. The delay to my permit processing has led to another major headache; come the date of my current permit’s expiry, ABSA will freeze my account and I will have to revert to trusty bed mattress banking until I can supply them with a new permit number! I am once again at the mercy of a system and a ‘computer says no’ mentality.

This time around I decided to pursue the route of the spousal permit since I was assured that it would be a much simpler and all-in-all quicker process (and by virtue of the fact that I am now married to a South African national). I’d do just about anything to numb the ball-ache (picture the Daniel Craig torture scene from Casino Royale…yes, the one with the chair!) which Home Affairs knowingly inflicts on all foreign nationals requiring a temporary resident permit. Even those who are considered ‘skilled’ labour and contribute to the economic growth of the country do not receive a slightly preferential treatment. And yet an organisation such as SARS will gladly accept your tax money without so much as a second thought as to your immigration status? Continue reading

My Sofa: How Not To Customer Service

Just this morning I was reading a blog post about the standard of customer service in South Africa, or lack thereof and I decided that in the spirit of the moment I’d like to add to the subject from atop my soapbox. The focus of my experience would be our living room sofa (naturally) and my favourite cell phone provider, MTN. I expect more blogs to follow on this subject, but for now these two will do.

I sometimes have to remind myself that I have willingly moved to live in the butt end Africa (geographically speaking), but for a country which markets itself as ‘first world’, has a plethora of spectacular scenery and wildlife and hosted a successful World Cup event in 2010, it is severely lacking when it comes to good customer service. Customer should be King. Customer focus in real first world countries is something which all service providers, consultants, hell….even fast food chains strive to overachieve in. Happy clients are something that will take you far, be it through word-of-mouth recommendations or otherwise. This is a mentality which I try to apply in every aspect of my job; I like to do things well and sometimes struggle to see why this can’t be emulated throughout South African society. Continue reading

Fat Cats Take the Cream

A bit of competition when it comes down to anything is admittedly healthy. It gives children a chance to better themselves at a school sports day, makes reality TV show viewing a bit more entertaining (especially when there’s hair-pulling involved) and more importantly it helps to keep companies in check when it comes to benchmarking prices. In the absence of such competition, companies can effectively make the rules and charge whatever they like. Unfortunately, when your electricty provider is a nationalised mega-player, such as Eskom, this can be a little problematic.

To put South Africa’s power situation into more of a perspective, there are currently 18 power suppliers in the UK, a country whose land mass (area) can fit five times into that of South Africa’s. Eskom is currently the only major supplier of electrical power in the country and they have power consumers by the balls, figuratively speaking. This includes your everyday Joe such as me. Continue reading

Tsk Tsk Tshwane

Yesterday was one of those days where I started off on a mission to change the world, or at very least, a local government’s slight billing oversight (saving myself some hard-earned Rands). Our August bill from Tshwane Municipality had failed to arrive on time and I naturally assumed that the postman was running late with our mail – on African time so to speak. This is very similar in nature to the ‘mañana mindset’ exhibited by the Spanish, however our delay was more than likely due to the postman fondling the bill letter in order to establish if there was anything inside worth stealing. The postal service here is much hit and miss. Continue reading

Get ‘Fast’ Internet for only X*%$!!! p/m

Should you go on to any of the big South African Internet Service Provider (ISP) websites there will undoubtedly be a link to one of their ‘fast internet’ service offerings. To put the term ‘fast’ into perspective, 384kbps is guaranteed on most of the ADSL services, with anything above this an added bonus, and one which you shouldn’t complain about. You could after all be downgraded to dial-up!

For anyone who has not ventured outside the borders of South Africa in their lifetime, the internet reached ‘blazing fast’ and heady heights for the rest of the developed world at around the turn of the millennium. On one particular UK-based broadband provider site, the slowest service which you can now purchase is 10 Megs (Mbps) for under R200 per month (no typo here!). Continue reading