I am, for the most part, comparatively peace-loving, one might say, even quite languid, in a gentlemanly sort of way. Over recent days, however, whatever patience I possess has been strained to the limits of its endurance and the decorous constraints imposed by an excellent public school education have been let slip like dogs of war, resulting in an almost homicidal rage.
A well-known telecoms company, seventy million subscribers worldwide, is the focus of my vengeful thoughts, muttered imprecations, cursing and gnashing of teeth and a wish for homicidal retribution even unto the third and fourth generation of each and any representative of the nest of vipers masquerading as a competent and upright organisation.
The story runs thus. In April or May, seduced by cheesy advertising, I bought into this company’s fastest Internet dongle but from the outset, the device ran very slowly, was clearly overheating and after a few days failed altogether. Not unreasonable. These devices are assembled by sweatshop labour in some polluted,half-forgotten Chinese city and the probability of defect is high. I contacted them, who sent an engineer having poor English and halitosis who visited at home and attempted to reconfigure the device to look for a different receiver. The irony of the fact that this company is the largest telecoms service provider in the country and the device should function, albeit slowly, even in the middle of the desert seemed to have escaped him. Not unsurprisingly, he failed to make it work, I agreed (I had thought) with the young man that despite his undoubted skill and in the absence of his offer of a replacement (he was probably absent the day they taught Customer Relations) I would text him. He would cancel the contract on my behalf, since the fee for early closure was 14KD which I had no intention of paying since I had already paid up front for the first month’s instalment. I heard nothing more from him or them, thus I assumed with trusting, spectacular naivete that the matter was closed.
I checked in early September on my return to Kuwait and discovered that the company had been billing me for the last four months presumably via a defunct Internet dongle and the current amount outstanding was a little in excess of 84KD.
Their complaints procedure is inflexible and invariant. On calling 107, I was told repeatedly that a Technical Services representative would call me to resolve the matter. I made a total of ten calls, spoke to a variety of different helpful young men who promised me faithfully that my problem was their problem, soothingly told me ‘don’t worry’, something would be done and someone from Technical Services would call. Do stay with me here. I waited, eager to speak with someone who could and would solve my problem. How many calls did I receive? None. Not a single call. Nada, as attested by the absence of missed calls on my phone. Finally, today, I received a text threatening to cut off my phone account unless I paid the outstanding amount. On the eleventh attempt, and after a number of return calls, I insisted on speaking to a call centre supervisor who contacted his opposite number in Technical Services in Head Office, Shuwaikh, suggesting I go to said Head Office and plead my case before this gentleman. With remarkable presence of mind, the Supervisor did tell me that even if I did track all the way uptown to the Airport Road, this new participant in the drama might actually not have the authority to resolve my problem. No doubt it has occurred to you, as it did to me, that there seemed little point in going at all. I am unable to justify time spent and indeed am strongly disinclined to make my way to Shuwaikh and track down this person who may indeed be unable to advance matters further. Additionally, the man I have been advised to speak to seems unavailable by phone – a call to Head Office sends one on yet another merry-go-round of ‘pressing 1 for service’.
I have today paid 84KD. This is transparent, daylight robbery and I now intend seeking redress with as much vigour, wasta, desk-thumping and histrionics as I can. British gentlemen do not enrage easily but when injustice is so cavalierly administered, they become bloody, bold and as tenacious as a bulldog. If I do not receive satisfaction, I shall go to the Press and the consequent PR damage which this company will suffer as a result of nothing more than incompetence will cost them rather more than the money which effectively has been stolen from me.
I feel so much better now.
Postscript. Please ignore all of the foregoing. I met a man who knows a man who has simply and efficiently sorted everything less than twenty four hours after first contact. Now I really do feel much better. Isaac, my new friend and hero, thanks. A giant amongst pygmies.