Tuesday, September 26, 2006

You have to laugh

Otherwise you'd just cry.

The phones have been acting up here. This is hardly news; the phones are always acting up here. But this time it's a new fault to me: I can make calls to landlines, but not to mobiles. Since I'm trying to arrange to collect sheep shit samples from several farmers over the course of tomorrow and Thursday, this is a bit of a pain. Farmers are notorious for never being in the house. If you want to get them on a landline, you need to phone before about half six in the morning. This is not a time of day with which I have much contact, so instead I've been leaving lots of messages on answering machines and trusting to good luck.

But this morning I found out that incoming calls are only intermittently being connected. Sometimes the caller gets through, other times he gets a continuous ringing tone, as if I'm not there and have forgotten to switch on the answering machine. Since in the average month I get about four calls,* the silence of the bells was not something that immediately spoke 'fault' to me. I just assumed the farmers were busy and would get back to me in the evening. Foolish me.

Once the fault was made apparent, however, I called the phone company to report it. There was the inevitable shuffling through menus - 'press one if you're interested in world domination, two if you'd like chips with that,' sort of thing. Then I was quite quickly through to a nice young lady whose command of English was considerably better than mine of Hindi. With a little misunderstanding and a lot of patience, I managed to explain the situation. She tapped away at a few keys, made some placating noises, couldn't find anything wrong and suggested I contact their line faults department. She rattled out a number for me to call, and I asked if I couldn't be put straight through.

'I'm sorry sir, I can't. We have a fault in our system.'

*it's true. We went away for three weeks once, and when we came back there were no messages on the answering machine. Just to check the system had been working, I dialled '1471' for the last caller id, only to be told it was three weeks earlier. It's nice to be popular.


Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Do you have a company that holds the phone monopoly? In Germany, things improved a lot after the government took the monopoly off Telecom. They whined and wailed and threatended to disemploy their staff, but now we have a nice competition, working lines and lower prices, and only few have lost their jobs with Telecom (and mostly found new ones with the new companies). I hope government will do the same with postal services. mwuahaha.

September 26, 2006 4:56 pm  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Argh, Blogger was hiding my comment again. The only way to make it show is posting another one. :(

September 26, 2006 6:43 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Never mind, Gabriele, it helps to boost my visitor numbers;}#

BT, the behemoth that came out of the old GPO, has had its monopoly more or less whittled away, and things are infinitely better than they were back in the days when you had to wait two years to get a telephone installed. The main problem is that we are in the middle of nowhere and serviced by an ancient and creaking network. It's not really cost-effective to upgrade the lines around here, so things get patched and repaired on an almost constant cycle. What's remarkable is that it works at all, and the fact that I can get 2mb broadband is nothing short of a miracle.

September 26, 2006 6:56 pm  

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