Telkom’s lack of service and infrastructure had members of the Overberg District Agricultural Association (DAA) fuming when they met with the telecommunications company for a meeting on 10 May in Bredasdorp in the Western Cape.
“We are more without telephone lines than with them,” a farmer, who wishes to stay anonymous, told Farmer’s Weekly. The farmer monitored every time his telephone line did not work and found it to be an average of 58%. During the meeting between the Overberg DAA and Telkom, numerous matters were discussed. DAA chief executive officer Orton King sent out a press release afterwards explaining the event.
One of the points of concern highlighted in this statement was the fact that Telkom’s main network in this rural area is not being maintained properly. King said the frequency of broken-down telephone lines was unacceptable. “When the telephones do work, there is constant static on the lines.”
King also said it was clear that the telephone lines in that area had been installed as talking lines, which should not be used for either fax or internet. Lulu Letlape, Telkom’s group executive for corporate communications, said Telkom is currently evolving its network with a view to enhance customer experience. “Importantly, the lines connecting these clients [the farming community] with the exchange are serviced and/or replaced on a regular basis due to adverse climate and the corrosion that might affect the quality of lines.” Letlape said the static on the telephone lines can be due to various reasons. “It can be due to the induction from other routes such as nearby power routes, vegetation or changes in the characteristics of the conductors.”
She said Telkom is committed to a Customer Centricity Strategy and that the company aims to enhance its customer experience, through call centres among other things. However, at the meeting farmers said they were fed up with the service Afrikaans-speaking clients received at Telkom’s call centres. When asked how many Afrikaans-speaking staff there are in Telkom’s call centres, Farmer’s Weekly received the following response: “Telkom is sensitive to the constitutional right of South Africans to use any of the 11 official languages. Through its language policy, Telkom encourages its employees to always be guided by sensitivity and politeness when selecting the most appropriate language for effective communication.”
DAA member Liohan Giliomee said Telkom told farmers the area’s infrastructure should be in place by the end of July. – Susan Botes