Customers are at their wits’ end because Telkom has not been meeting their communication needs.
About 50 readers raised their frustration with Telkom in BackChat, a platform for Daily News readers to voice their thoughts. These frustrations ranged from telephone lines that were not working to poor customer service.
Krish Gounden, chief executive of the non-profit Clare Estate Senior Citizens’ Association, described Telkom as a “pathetic” service provider.
Gounden said there were 22 residents between the ages of 65 and 94 living on the premises and 90 that did not live on the premises. The NGO’s Telkom landline has not been working for the past three months. After complaining several times, they were apparently told by Telkom to use a mobile service.
Gounden was afraid that the organisation could not call for help if there was an emergency.
“If there was a fire, we wouldn’t be able to call emergency services,” he said. “We’ve got cameras and a security guard, but what if someone falls? How would we call for an ambulance or inform their next of kin?”
He believes residents should not be using their personal cellphones to make those calls.
“We have called, we have gone to Telkom offices directly and we have filed an online report,” said a frustrated Gounden.
After numerous attempts to lodge a complaint, they were told the area had a cable problem. However Gounden said their neighbour’s Telkom line was working.
He said after he filed an online report, he was given a reference number and told there was cable theft in the area. When one of the association’s directors lodged another complaint, he was told to use a cellphone.
“It is frustrating because we are paying for a service we are not receiving,” he said.
In another incident, the principal of Pemary Ridge Primary School in Reservoir Hills had complained that the school’s landline had been out of order for two months.
Pravin Ramdukhi, who retired last month, had contacted Telkom eight times and was given an escalation number twice, but Telkom still failed to fix the problem.
The school has more than 500 pupils and desperately needs the phone to be fixed.
“We also have a hall that generates revenue for us. People can’t call and make a booking. We’re losing out,” he said.
Ramdukhi said the matter was resolved when his BackChat complaint appeared in The Daily News, .
Telkom spokesperson Nomalungelo Faku apologised for the inconvenience and frustration experienced.
“Telkom always endeavours to restore interrupted services as expeditiously as possible. It is important, however, to note that each fault needs to be handled individually,” Faku said.
However, readers complained that they waited from three weeks to four months for Telkom faults to be resolved.
Faku said some cases could be resolved immediately, while others could take longer because of infrastructure replacement, alternative access technology or, in some cases, the “hardening” of the infrastructure, such as encasing cables which run in concrete.
“If infrastructure has to be replaced because of cable theft or storm damage, a process of assessment, funding, planning and deployment has to be done. Cable theft has had a significant impact on Telkom and thousands of customers,” said Faku.
She said they were ramping up efforts to migrate customers to wireless and fibre technologies to ensure connectivity and limit the risk of cable theft.
Some BackChatters said: “All they ever do is give countless excuses.” Others were still waiting to be credited for services they did not receive.
Faku said Telkom had in place a programme - aimed at developing better ways to manage customer engagement - which was expected to be implemented by October.
She said the rental credit was passed on to the customer once a fault was resolved.
She said Telkom was committed to resolving faults as quickly as possible and they had offered other options - such as social media and online reporting - to their call centres for customers to resolve faults.