It’s the little things that sometimes get to me

I have to be forgiven for being led astray, being lulled into a false sense of security.

Working with my BIZ+ colleagues has been brilliant. They are competent and intelligent people with good hearts and a can-do attitude.  They make things happen, quickly.  They are more often than not, two steps ahead of everyone else.  I’m pretty lucky to be working with such a great crew.  But I’m beginning to realize they are more the exception than the norm.

Take what happened last night.

For no apparent reason, piped gas for the stove top in the apartment was no longer.  It had been working fine on Sunday night when I cooked dinner, but not a peep last night, just after I had peeled and chopped a bunch of veggies darn it!  Of course there was no answer from the supposed 24-hour maintenance line so I had to wait until the office opened this morning to report the problem.

To cut a long story short, the utility bill I paid March 17 (due March 23) was not properly allocated.  The electricity and water bills were paid, but not the gas, so my supply was cut off.  After a lengthy call this morning, and walking them through how to find my un-allocated payment in the suspense account, they were able to pay the gas bill and arrange for re-connection.  No apologies, no sense of embarrassment at their error, and to top it all, they wanted to charge me a re-connection fee.  You can imagine my answer to that.

I’ve been six months in Sri Lanka and this seems to be the norm here.

Dialog, the largest privately-run telecom company shut off the BIZ+ office’s internet connection for two days recently, purely because they hadn’t posted the payment made a week prior, to our account.  Again, no courtesy call, they just cut the service.  And to make matters worse, they had dispatched a technician to troubleshoot the break in service.  It was only when, after a day’s worth of troubleshooting with no result,  the Customer Service Representative noticed the billing error and was able to rectify it.  I felt bad for our Office Manager who wasted her breath for two straight days trying to get it all resolved.

At a partner’s factory construction site I recently visited, electricity supply was carefully planned well in advance and the order submitted in advance of the actual date it would be needed.  An additional transformer was even installed.  The Ceylon Electricity Board gave a quote for the work, the company paid the bill and soon enough, they had the electricity needed to begin welding the steel frame.  One month later as construction was underway, the supply was cut without notice.

After two days of phonecalls and investigation, the CEB admitted to having quoted them the incorrect amount and the client owed them additional money.  So instead of calling the client to discuss, they simply cut the supply, costing the client two days of construction expenses while the matter was resolved.

My mobile phone service has been cut twice, again due to payments that were made on time, yet not posted to the account by the mobile company.

It boggles the mind really.

There’s clearly a strong need for training in understanding Fees & Billing Systems, peppered with good customer care strategies.  Taking care of the customer does not seem to come naturally here, unlike many other countries I have lived and worked in, including other Asian countries.

Well, I didn’t quite plan to rant so much, but I feel all the better for it!

And the day has ended rather well.  I came home to discover a dove minding two eggs in a little nest on the service balcony of my apartment.  Urban wildlife at it’s best.

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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One Response to It’s the little things that sometimes get to me

  1. Mick Canning says:

    Frustrating, indeed. Still, at least you have the dove!

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