Computers Rule, ok?

First Telecom’s ICMS system made fool of itself, yet again, because the saga of incompetence told last month did not end there. Shortly after it went to press another part of Telecom left message saying that if I did not call asap the reservations for my new numbers (which Telecom had elsewhere made valid till 25/12/2005) would disappear forthwith.
It turned out that there were three, not two, places in ICMS where there were notes about my case, and none of them knew anything of the others. The system, says an insider, is held together with pieces of string, the string being the willing chaps and chapesses who man the 123 lines. When the string breaks, ICMS cannot handle the loose ends.
Then Public Trust’s National Lending Division, which contains “a new element that does not understand the Public Trust way” to quote senior Public Truster of long-standing, showed itself to be constructed of silicon, spreadsheet numbers and cold little boxes on forms instead of trustworthy humanity.
The full story may be told later; the thumbnail is that by declining to honour an agreement the new elementers put someone under such extraordinary stress that he had heart-attack. There was no physical cause, it was nothing but stress, stress so high that even though he was strong chap his cardiac arteries took break, putting him in danger of what the acute assessment registrar called “a side-effect: sudden death”.
From his hospital bed in the Coronary Care Unit of one of New Zealand’s superb public hospitals the chap pleaded with the ?new element’ for trivial extension to his loan, in which he had bags of unused equity, and for which major extension had previously been gratuitously offered.
“Please,” he said, through his oxygen mask, “take humanitarian view. Take away this stress.” Did they? Not on yer Nelly. They undid the screws one turn, then tightened them half turn. New elements, and other facsimiles of human beings, must learn that killing your customers is not good business practice. It reduces market share.
(It must be said, though, that it is very kind of organisations to keep journalists so well supplied with good material. They could dump their shortcomings in any dark corner. But they do it right under our noses. It is very kind. It saves much effort.)

You get what you pay for?
I often call Bulgaria. I used to use Telecom. But the lines were either so full of sand that it sounded as if all the cosmic radiation since the Big Bang was trying to get through, or the satellite echo was so bad that I spent more time talking to myself than the person at the other end, or she was so faint that Bulgaria seemed further away than the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Or all three at oncewhich is only possible with the best of modern technology. In short, the lines ran like patched dog. For that Telecom charged $1.89 minute. But Big T (as in T Rex) often found itself not able to collect, because it had to issue credit after credit and apology after apology for its abysmally bad service.
Then along came Clear with Ztalk, which charges $5.99 quarter hour (a fifth as much) for lines that are crystal clear, entirely free of echo, and make Bulgaria sound next door.
Footnote: Shortly after Ztalk started Telecom sent me nice, froggy card offering special rate to Bulgaria for two weekends: only $1 minute. (T Rex’s marketing department is obviously really on the ball. Or should that be the cosmic sand?)

Nobilangelo Ceramalus: Writer, commentator, journalist, desktop publisher, graphics-designer, illustrator, webmaster, photographer.

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