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Telkom responding?

By   |  January 23, 2007

Yesterday Telkom installed my ADSL line. On any other day this would have been unremarkable. Except that in this case it came just two days after the campaign I helped run, the Telecoms Action group (TAG), published an advert in the national Mail & Guardian newspaper complaining about the appalling service offered by the telecoms service provider.

I ordered the ADSL line five months ago. Is it a coincidence that it was installed in the wake of the campaign? Who knows, but the timing does seem remarkable.

In fact, usually Telkom sends out one of its outsourced contractees to install ADSL lines. This time they sent a Telkom employee who said they were only sent out when there was a “problem”. What that problem could have been is beyond me because, apart from a phone line that went dead a month or two ago, there was no obvious impedance to installing the ADSL line. Perhaps the problem was me?

The Telecoms Action Group campaign was always about demanding better service and clearly Telkom can do it if they want to. It’s just that consumers have to resort to desperate measures, like a R40 000 advert in a newspaper, to get noticed.

Let’s hope that Telkom also takes seriously the ongoing battles by consumers to have usable phone lines installed in horribly underserviced areas. I use the word “usable” because of the number of areas that still rely on operator-controlled switchboards for their access to the global world (“nommer-asseblief” for the Afrikaans speakers) which is not an effective way to connect to the internet.

In the days after the campaign launched I received numerous phone calls from consumers even more frustrated than myself. Imagine the pent up fury of being one of the users that simply never receive a phone line because Telkom is just not prepared to roll out lines to underserviced areas, preferring to pay a measly R15 million fine to avoid having to roll out the additional 16 000 plus lines. Or having fought for a service for one, two or even more years. There are thousands of people in the country with exactly that problem.

What the Telecoms Action Group does next is largely up to its supporters. We are already looking at possible actions but we don’t simply want to do the same advert again. What ever it is we do we need to keep the pressure on Icasa, government and Telkom to make real changes that will benefit all South Africans and make Telecoms more affordable and more widely spread.


One Response to “Telkom responding?”

  1. Marius
    February 5th, 2007 @ 12:00 am

    I had a similar experience having to wait 3 months for Telkom to install my ADSL line on a 24 month contract. Finally installed I was overjoyed with my new ability to be online at reasonable speeds. Until I received my next Telkom invoice!

    Even though I explicitly requested / reminded the Telkom representative at their local service office that my existing dial-up internet contract (and the weekend \”infinite\” call agreement) must be cancelled, I am still being charged for this on top of the ADSL line cost. To top it all, Telkom added another R700,00 to the bill as the purchase price of the modem, plus a R380,00 installation charge. This while they clearly advertise these costs to be free on the 24mth contract deal.

    You can guess the rest of the story. On complaining I was curtly told to first pay the full amount, after which my next invoice will be credited with the payback.

    I live in eternal hope of someday, somewhere receiving decent service from Telkom, but is seriously considering cancelling the whole ADSL thing with Telkom and going with one of the wireless service providers.

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