Friday, 30 September 2011

Getting connected

“Life is simple until you enter the Vodaphone shop.”

So said an exasperated customer I overheard on a recent visit to the Accra branch of the mobile company. I was soon nodding in agreement. The Ghanaian approach to customer service takes a bit of getting used to. Not unhelpful, not rude, just … indifferent, as I found out while attempting what I had thought would be a simple transaction.

“I’d like to buy a SIM card, please”.
“Can I get one here?”
“My colleague will get you one.”

(Colleague tootles off around the corner while my sales assistant checks Facebook silently. SIM card arrives. I put it in my phone and go through the instructions.)

“Does it have credit on already?”
“How do I get credit?”
“You have to buy top-up vouchers.”
“Do you sell them?”
(Long pause.)
“Can I buy one?”
“My colleague will get you one.”

Getting our broadband installed at the flat was even more trying. For four weeks the Vodaphone staff and I went through a well-rehearsed routine.

At 10.00 am each day, I called the Vodpahone office and ask when my broadband will be installed. The sales assistant said they would call me back, then hung up.

12.00 pm. I ring again after no one has called me back and ask to speak with the manager. The manager tells me someone will be round that afternoon.

15.00 pm. I ring again to find out why no one has come round. The manager tells me they are very busy and will come round first thing tomorrow. We both know that a) she’s lying, b) there’s bugger all I can do about it, and c) I will have to call again tomorrow.

None of my attempts to speed things up worked. Being nice was met with indifference. Being angry, the same. My threats to take my business elsewhere also backfired, as the sales assistant switched to being extremely helpful, offering to cancel my contract over the phone until I had to humbly back down and confess I wasn’t going to switch providers. I think this counts as a lesson in the local culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment