Monday, May 14, 2007
Telekom, Does It Have To Be Sooo ... Complicated?
I have been cut off from the world for more than a week. No, I was not stranded in a Pacific island. I had a telephone problem.
This automatically affected my streamyx service. With me still boycotting to buy NST and other main stream media, that means I was also cut off from news. Worst of all, I am denied from blogging. Already earlier my phone was suspended for a few days. That was my mistake for being late on my payment.
That late Saturday afternoon I was writing stuff in this Blog, but I can't publish it. The Internet was disconnected and all those writing lost. I didn't save it earlier. When I checked my telephone, it was absolutely dead.
I immediately called using my handphone a nearby electrician to come over. He can't do it. I was told they are not specialist in telecommunication. Best to get a specialist contractor with Telekom. I was told to call the 100 number.
I did exactly that and requested them to send someone over to the house first before starting work. I don't want them to tinker away brainlessly, without meeting me. In a minute, an SMS with my report detail came in. Wah ... efficient. So I'll have to wait out through the weekend.
Come Monday, I called the 100 number again and gave them the report number. They asked me for details and my problems. I thought I just gave my report number, whats the problem? Do I hate aimless repetition? I refused and told them, "My life must be convenient becasue I am a customer. You are supposed to be inconvenienced. I am sure by punching those number somewhere, you can retrieve even my mother's name from that. Go do it."
After a while on the line, the lady answered, "Yes, we have your detail. Sorry." They actually can do it. Why the heck did they have to ask me all that, I thought. Before I could say anything, she informed me, "There is a cable problem in so-and-so place. It'll take a couple of days." I repeated my request to have someone over to see. "No sir, we can check through our system. You do not need that."
OK thats Monday.
I called again Tuesday.
I wanted to check how the status of the cable problem. After being asked to wait for quite sometime, my phone card ran out. Only did I realised that calling enquiries with your handphone to Telekom, even for a 013, is charged. What is not charged now?
So I had to call from another place. I already assumed the public phone downstair is not working.
When I got to call them, their reply was, "You must be patient, fixing cable problem may take few days." The same lady from yesterday said. "But I just want Telekom to send someone over here first..."
I waited throughout the day, and no calls supposedly to make arrangement to meet me came in on my handphone.
Coming down the elevator in the morning, I met one of the friendlier neighbour. When asked how his telephone was, he answered "OK, no problem."
"You mean you never had any interruption of service since Saturday?" I asked.
"No", he said. Hmm... strange, I thought.
That late afternoon, I decided to knock on few neighbours on my floor to enquire of their telephone. All gave good responses. Duck it! In my mind, I was wondering, what the heck is Telekom doing? I borrowed my neighbour phone to call the 100 Telekom number to ask. Their response, "I don't know. That is what the system tells me. They are fixing a cable fault at this so and so Taman."
"How come this next door neighbour of mine's telephone is ok? Do you know the cable fault you mentioned is so far away from my place?" I was building up fume.
"I will have to call you back on that. I do not know of your place." She replied.
"Where are you located?" I enquired.
"Aaa ... Penang?" Only then I understood my complaint is being handled by someone in Penang. They share the incoming enquiries with the centres in Kuala Lumpur and Kuching. "Ok then please call me. I want to know what happened?"
No calls came in.
Thursday, next day.
I SMS my wife around noon and requested to call from her office. Save my pre-paid phone. Same script of questions was asked of her. Being polite and her usual over obliging, she decide to redirect them to call me. Sometime in late afternoon, my wife SMS me to tell that Telekom told her the telephone is OK. I asked her, "How do they know? I am in a meeting somewhere and you are at work. Did they break in?"
Eventually, the Telekom people called me to tell me, "The cable problem is solved and your phone is ok." I was already home by then and responded, "Good for you but my telephone does not work and there is no tone at all. You heard my repeated request right. Get someone over tomorrow morning first. This time, make sure its in the morning." I have Friday prayers around 1:00 pm and something (All Blog event) at 3:00 pm.
The Friday came.
Its 9 am and there is no one knocking on my door. I have no more patience for I'll not take chances with these leg dragging people. I seek for my neighbour's phone and called for the same lady. By the time I got to the person, I asked her, have you called and inform the contractor.
"Yes, I did this morning", she answered.
"This morning? I told you to tell yesterday. How do expect them to come here in the morning when you only inform in the morning? Do you know how long I have been waiting to get my phone fix ...." I was no more containing myself and giving her a lecture on telephone etiquette, keeping customer's informed, planning, not taking your customer for granted, .... and just stop of teaching her about existential philosophy.
Soon, after some 5 minites hanging up, a contractor called, "I was just told by Telekom. I can't come right away. But I am aware that you need to leave by 1:00 pm. We'll try to see you at 11:00 pm."
"Don't try please, just come by 11 pm"
"Yes we will", the Contractor said. "We will fixed it before the day ends."
"Sure ..." I said sceptically.
By 11:30 nobody came over, I called the contractor on my handphone. "Where are?"
"I'll get my people to call you. I am in Penang." The contractor answererd. Penang again!
A call came in around 11:45. His staff told me, "We are fixing something here few blocks outside the building."
"Can you come over to the house first? I've asked Telekom to see a human since last Saturday", I was growing impatient.
"Ok Ok bang, I'll come right away."
By the time, he came over, it was already 12:15. I had to ready myself. "Can you check if the lines are OK in here first? Telekom have for many months not been helpful to solve my streamyx and telephone set-up. I can't find the spliter model they gave me and their service hotline people don't even know where I could get it."
"Saya tak dapat buat tu. Kami cuma pastikan tone saja."
"The line is a different people lah?"
"Yes, line different, data or streamyx different, and tone different. After I get the tone in than I can help to check for the other matter."
This sounds like 3 set of Telekom people and several set of contractors to change a light bulb. "That will take time. That was why I asked you to come early so I will be around for you to enter and complete the job." I said. "OK lah just finish the job. I wait as much as I could."
After a while, I had to leave.
Sometime in evening, around 5-6, a Telekom people called. "Encik phone you dah ok."
"Macam mana you tahu? You heard my phone rang?" I was never gonna believe it.
When I reached home, again there was no tone at all in my telephone. Hell broke lose. I text the contractor's boss in Penang. Around 9:30 someone came, his supervisor came and went around tentatively looking through my lines figuring out why. Until he located a line around our door.
"Bang", he called.
I came right away. "Ya"
"Someone cut a piece of your phone line and even hid the end so as not to be detected. Look! When I connect this phone to the line, this phone works. Where is the other end of the phone?"
"So what I you planning to do?" I asked.
"I am not a line contractor, so I have to inform Telekom of this. I'll get to the nearest Telekom maintenance office at this Taman and first thing in the morning, someone will come."
"From day one, I asked Telekom to send someone over. Why is Telekom so phobia about meeting up its customer?"
Saturday 9:30 am.
Another contractor called, "Can we come over maybe around 11:00 am?"
"Lets promise and not do maybe. 11:00 am is fine." I agreed.
Right on time he came. The guy is quite a jovial and confident chap. "You sit down and leave it to me." He said.
I saw him throw away quite a bit of external phone lines and after some half hour, everything is fixed. Offered him some drink and he told me the same exact thing about a sabotage. I told him about what I went through and this is the first after almost a year, that my phone and streamyx is finally proper and working.
He told me I was lucky. One Dato after making calls to powerful places, could only sort his telephone after week. Problem lies with Telekom and their maintainance process. Contractors only get instruction. We are specifics in our role, so now this add to the slow response when it involves more than just the tone, or data/streamyx or wiring. A lot of the experiacned ones left, this is the effect.
I understood. The cost cutting undertaken as part of Telekom's GLC reform to generate more profit must have set an arbitrary figure to reduce maintenance cost and this affected service.
"Those days one team can fix some 40-50 house a day. Now the Telecom team can only do at best 20 a day. We contractors just take orders when called on." He continued.
I told him, "The last time I had a customer service problem like this, I actually SMS someone high at the top. He apologised and ask for the detail to help but I refused. Its not his job to do menial matter like this. I only wanted to give a feed back and remind him that customer service means immediate service, least customer inconvenience, communication, and service beyond expectation must be there. His answer was "That is what it is supposed to be and not the way it happened.""
My thought was even when you are high up, you must learn to bother and follow through your expectation. Check even on your top management people. Command and control is not sufficient. Find ways to know of the grouses from the ground. Don't be in a habit of being defensive. Being at the top means leading and managing, not being held up doing papers till late at night.
That is the problem with Malaysian corporates. We are run by Lawyers and Accountants with Civil Servants as Chairman. Civil servant are bereaucratic. Lawyers only the law and nothing but the law. Accountants are only concern about bottom line and technical efficiency, human touch, and quality of service is secondary and confined within profit target. See, if most major Global Corporation, other than International Law and Accounting firms, make a habit of placing Accountants, Lawyers, and Civil Servants as CEO?
And the sabotage? Heck with it, am I supposed to be afraid? I am not gonna be a kepoci to make posters and drama out of it.
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