Accidents happen, I accept that. And so, with that attitude in mind, I amiably called Joburg Water to report that our area was without water. This was at about 5pm, at which point I was informed that it had been reported at 4pm, but they could not give me a time frame as to when it would be fixed.
So I waited, and at about a quarter to seven, called again to find out if they had a timeframe yet and was again told that there was no timeframe yet. This had only been three hours, and while it's an inconvenience, it was not a major one yet. In preparation for what could be a while, I grabbed some empty bottles and visited a friend. I at least had water enough to ensure I could brush the teeth and so on.
At about eight thirty, I called Joburg water again. This time I was informed that one of the construction machines being used for the Gautrain project had fallen and ruptured a pipe. When asked for a timeframe, the call centre operator informed me that the technicians could only start repairing it tomorrow, once the Gautrain people had moved the machine.
The kicker is, barely five minutes later, I hear gurgling noises from the plumbing, I investigate and discover that water flow had been restored. This is good news, obviously. But it runs against what I was told. This leaves two possibilities.
Either the service crew could not talk clearly, or alternately, the staff member taking the message about the repair status is partially deaf. Because somehow the message went from "We've almost fixed it" to "We can't fix it, a Gautrain machine has fallen on the pipe and we can't move it, only they can and then we can fix the pipe tomorrow." Somehow that does not seem likely, which leaves the second option being the more viable one.
And the second alternative is, of course, that the call centre operator lied. She invented some little fiction that would get me off the phone so she could continue her chat with the friend sitting next to her.
Working in a call centre cannot be fun, I doubt anyone rubs their hands in anticipation and expresses a desire to deal with irate people all day. But I was not irate, I was calm, polite and restrained. And still, I got lied to.
This is not the only occurrence of behaviour like this, I have endured similar treatment from most city officials. Licensing department, police and so on. Those are stories for other posts though, but I for one feel it is unacceptable that these services act the way they do, with complete impunity and disregard for the very people they are there to serve.