By Emil van der Poorten –
Those of us in the unenviable position of being at the mercy of our President’s brother in the matter of the provision of telecommunication services can probably generate a great deal more heat stemming from what used to be called “high dudgeon” than I can when the subject of Sri Lanka Telecom’s services are being discussed. However, since no one, up to now, appears to have stated the basic facts about the unbelievably bad service provided, let me take a crack at it.
As a resident of a relatively remote location (by Sri Lankan standards), less that 2 kilometres away from a major highway, the A 10 connecting two provincial capitals, Kandy and Colombo, we have reconciled ourselves to such inconveniences as not having a telephone line to our residence and having, instead, to depend on signals from telecommunication towers for our conversations through the ether.
While the quality of the voice reception leaves something to be desired, we manage by the expedient of taking the telephone from place to place until we receive the best possible reception.
However, our experience with the so-called 4G service provided at significant cost has been more than an inconvenience. It has proved a monumental disaster, particularly considering that when we lose our voice connection we also lose the use of the internet connection!
It’s bad bad enough that we receive terrible service, but being subject to regular threats of service disconnection under the most unbelievable circumstances really pushes things over the line. To explain:
I pay my phone bill immediatelyon receipt of it. I make the payment by electronic transfer of funds from my bank account to Sri Lanka Telecom’s, thus ensuring that the vagaries of our postal service are avoided.
Without fail, within a couple of days, I get an sms message telling me that my service will be “interrupted” if my “overdue payment” is not received forthwith.
Attempts to resolve this problem by email communication with SLT and through phone calls were anything but successful and I was informed that I had to visit an SLT centre (in Kandy, 20 kms away) and make an application, in person, so that I could access my account status on the internet to verify the accusations that were being made in the matter of “unpaid charges.”
Having printed out the required forms, I went into Kandy and met the head of Mobitel in their Kandy City Centre office, the part of Sri Lanka Telecom that provides this service. Prior to my submitting the completed application, I had the subject clerk review the document to ensure that it was in order. This he confirmed and I was told I would receive a password by email within a couple of days and I could use this to establish a permanent password to access all my account information on line thereafter
I did not receive the communication despite several weeks having passed.
I again visited the Mobitel Centre in Kandy City Centre and was told, essentially, that there was nothing further that could be done by that office. I was, however, provided with an email address to which to address my grievance.
I should acknowledge here the courteous and very helpful manner in which the manager of the Kandy City Centre office treated me.
I followed instructions. Nothing has happened despite more than another month having passed.
To reiterate: when our 4G connection “goes down” we not only lose access to the internet but cannot make even a telephone call on that instrument. Our complaints have to be made on either a Etisalat or Dialog mobile phone. In other words, in order to draw attention to the fact that we are not receiving a service for which we pay, we have the additional cost of calls through services provided by other phone companies!
There is an old Sinhala saying that is most appropriate in this circumstance. It loses a great deal in the translation, but refers to “The man who fell from a tree being gored by a bull when he hit the ground.” (Gahen vatichcha minihaata gona aenna.”) Seeking help from Sri Lanka Telecom/Mobitel, headed by the Paddy Baron (Sand King?) brother of our current President brings to mind that aphorism.
There has been a steady decline in the quality of service provided by our primary and national telecommunications entity and one cannot but surmise that a large part of this problem is because, as that old saying has it, the fish rots from the head.
We are on the brink of a national convulsion and this might provide the opportunity for a clearing of the decks of flotsam and jetsam, related to the politically powerful. While the finger has been, justifiably, pointed at the Rajapaksa Clan in the matter of establishing a family hegemony in this country, those fattening themselves, their siblings and progeny at the national trough should not be ignored.
Enough is enough. Sri Lankans have exhibited unbelievable patience with those who’ve raped and pillaged what is ours. It is time to deposit them all on the dung-heap of Sri Lankan history.
Let’s start with the brother of the most powerful man in the country. Tomorrow will NOT be soon enough!