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.