A few years ago I attended a seminar at Deloitte. It was about the future of advertising. It was a refreshing rendition of companies and their false claims and dis-advertising. But, and here is the very interesting part that grabbed my attention, it was not about more regulation. It was about how ‘the market’ will view companies and their false-claims promises. The contention was that, in the future, consumers would refuse to believe what suppliers claimed about their products and services and use social media to seek advice on where the best-price/best-experience was available. Furthermore, consumers would ‘spread the news’ about those companies that did do not meet up with the standards they claim to portray.

I was so enthralled with this idea that I immediately adopted it for myself. When I wanted to buy a new phone I went onto Facebook and asked for suggestions, right down to the best store to shop at. Surprisingly I got about 16 responses and was able to honestly get objective and meaningful advice.

From that time on, I have committed to inform the universe of companies that give poor service. What is important, though, is to not to make too be colloquial. The moan had to be to highlight a fundamental flaw in that company and it’s false claims.

This brings me to Web Africa.

Web Africa is my current internet provider. Dealing with this company is a nightmare beyond nightmares.

The cause?

Besides the usual proverbial incompetent call-centre system, there is no-one further up the line who is at all interested in the poor service that they dish out.

Firstly, getting through to the call centre can take up to 20 minutes. Hanging on the phone (usually my cell phone) is seriously irritating and then eventually speaking to someone who is badly trained and cannot understand the problem, further compounds an already out-of-control situation.

Now comes the worst thing of all. Half way through my lengthly explanation the phone cuts off. Not once. Not twice Not three times but an large number of times.Try escalating the problem to a manager and you hot a brick wall. There is no such thing. No managers are available. Each time you call back to find out what has happened, the whole saga starts all over again.

For me to sit a write this out is a clear indication of my abject frustration of this incompetent company and I feel civilly bound to tell you my experience.

Besides other niggling issues, the one that has really spun me out is to do with an overcharge on my account.

Here’s the story:

Last year I requested a ADSL line to be installed at our Plett holiday home. The request was for 2 months as I was to be there over December/January. My instruction was clear and it was confirmed to me in writing. In May this year my bookkeeper informs me that I was still being charged for the holiday home. Here starts the saga. Now, the charge is nearly R1,000 a month. After many calls and over 10 hours on the phone the charges were never reversed. I tried on a few occasions to speak to a manager but to no avail. Every time I asked to reception to speak to management, I was simply chucked back to the call centre queue. After far too much frustration, which always costs me dearly in my stress- and aggravation-time, I eventually went on LinkedIn and sought out a senior official I could contact. I found someone who was on the board of directors and at least, I thought he would care enough about what the dungeons of his company looked like.

He never responded or cared. That’s when I knew that I was dealing with a toxic setup.

I am owed R8,000 and I’m not walking away from it.

Of course, I need to re-wifi our Plett home once again. This might sound ludicrous, but my quickest route is sticking with Web Africa. I thought it would be a good opportunity to use the new business as a leverage on the query that I have from last year. The nice person who took the call explained to me that I had to give 30 days notice to terminate the wifi last year and that probably was the problem. But when I explained to her that I would need to give the notice as soon as I requested the service (which in the order that I placed), she said that she would get a manager to call straight away. I’m still waiting. Aaaaahhhhh!

The reason why this company thinks it can get away with this pretty laughable. And this is the big thing here: reading this, you may keep your WebAfrica service but what I’m displaying here is the sign of things to come.

And, maybe you will also go on social media and check with others before you buy. That’s good enough for me. It is about time that ‘The People’ became powerful and stood up for poor service and poor value. That is the only way that the rogue companies will be put out of business.

But here is the most important issue of all – the time I wasted trying to sort this out has been eye-watering. Coupled with frustration, aggravation and upset, it is the time issue that has been really expensive to me. I estimate it cost me R150,000 in lost earnings.

Why did I not deal with it sooner? I did. I then I handed it to my wife. And then I gave it to my accountant (who charged 4.5 hours of her time to supposedly sort it out – she was told a credit would be passed which never happened). The whole time, the time and frustration issue was on the table. Should I waste more time for R8,000? I would lose more than that in the time I spent trying to get a resolution.

I would have left it and not bothered with the R8k. It just wasn’t worth it. But all-in-all would you have walked away? I doubt it. It’s not the money. It’s the principle!