Death by terrible techies

2013-06-23 12:00

I am tempted to do something dramatic, like launch myself on an empty desk and bang my head against the surface’s edge until I bleed, so the staff will scream in terror.

I want to frighten them, but mostly I want to shame them, all of them: the three attendants working at the technical desk and the rest of the five, unabashedly playing with their cellphones as customers wait.

I am at one of this cellphone network provider’s many (God knows why) stores at Sandton City – that inconspicuously positioned, cavernous one at the bottom end whose design philosophy I have concluded is to create despair among its customers: to make you think twice before you venture in.

I am here to report a fault on my internet dongle. I bought it last year to replace the first one I got from them, which also inexplicably stopped working after about two or three years.

At close to 30 minutes in, I get this yearning to self-harm as protest because I am still sitting at one of the stools lined up for the technical desk, with no clear indication that I will get help. Plus, the journey to wait in this queue was unnecessarily prolonged.

I know the drill: They will tell me what I know – “it’s broken” – and explain that if I am not past the date of cover, they will book it in and give me a loan unit. Or I have to buy a new one, which is how I ended up with this one.

Yet I have to restate my problem to three individuals before I get to the stagnant waiting line for either of these inevitable solutions. At the door, the security guard/ receptionist listens and points me to a guy sitting behind one of the desks. That man spends about five minutes diagnosing a problem I had already informed him about.

“I know.” Sigh. “Can you fix it?”

No, he tells me. He is not part of the technical team and gives me one of those square, blinking ringer things. I hate those ringer things. I am convinced they carry superbugs with the number of hands they pass through. I already know I’m going to go back home frustrated, but I’d like not to include the H1N1 flu virus to my list of problems.

I ask a woman sitting at one of the “dead” desks to check for a loan unit, so that I don’t sit here wasting time waiting for something that does not exist. When she answers that only the tech guys can do it, I kick up a fuss. She looks at me blankly and it seems we have a standoff until she disappears behind a door for a few minutes and returns to mumble that they do have one.

It takes a further 20 minutes before I get any actual service: And this after a woman in a micromini version of those in-vogue peplum dresses that frame exquisite figures of small waists and rounded bottoms, and wearing platform stilettos, walks in and bypasses the line. Instead of being pushed back, she gets two tech guys at her service, one of whom was up to that point leaning unhelpfully against a wall.

I am a bit ashamed to be roused into active protest by feminine competition, but I drop the Tamagotchi and demand service, which I get with none of the enthusiasm shown to my departed female counterpart.

It’s another 10 minutes or so of waiting for the hallowed tech guy to draw up the forms for the loan unit.

On my way out, I have a thought to ask the first guy, the one the security guard/ receptionist pointed me to, to confirm this new dongle does indeed work.

He tells me he’s logged off for the day so that, I assume, I make no mistake of the great inconvenience I am turning out to be.

So I pull out my laptop and we discover the dongle does not work. The unit, he explains, is not compatible with my machine. I need a different one, which, it turns out, they do not have.

I’m so tired, having been in there for close to an hour, so I take this useless dongle anyway. But I stop for a moment to contemplate confessing how I sat there plotting to bleed their company colour as a sign of revolt.

Nah, I conclude, even this gruesome sense of poetic justice would be lost on them.

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