Bee in my Bonnet – Telkom

by Penny Mbumblebee-close-up-1380644-640x480

When I was a fledgling in need of a pocket money boost, I got myself a summer job for Marks and Spencer (UK).  Every day for six weeks, I would catch the train to Newport, on the coast of Wales, and trundle down the road to the store. The fact that such the upmarket chain store had humble beginnings as a Penny Bazaar was both ironic and touching to a young girl so named. Each new staff member underwent strict training prior to being allowed to serve customers.

Amongst other ground rules, I learnt that the customer was always right and that customer complaints were viewed in a positive light as indications of how to improve customer service. Telkom take note, this blog should add value to your bottom line, if only because this customer bothered to kick it.

underwear-1316935-639x852I was assigned to a Supervisor in the lingerie section where my job was to keep the counters and racks tidy. All the bras went together, laid out in their various colours, styles etc. Nighties and pyjamas, underskirts, panties and corsets had their allocated sections. All were easily visible from any spot in the department. This was my introduction to classifications in the retail sector.

Now that I think about it, my flair for the creative was already budding. I aspired to becoming a window dresser, but the shop window was out of bounds and nobody took a sixteen year old seriously.

Fast forward a few years to my second serious job as a private secretary. My boss’s filing system was incomprehensible and I set about restructuring the whole thing so that anybody could find anything with the greatest of ease, using a keyword alphabetical index.

A good few years after that, while employed by a local bank, I found myself the victim of a horrendous filing system. Documents were filed according to a Reference Number which was computer system driven to allocate space in a strong room according to the number of pages. This was all good, provided the system could be accessed for location purposes. However, little thought had been given to related correspondence that couldn’t be filed in the same place due to space restrictions. Instead of clipping this together per client and filing alphabetically, forms were further classified and filed according to the nature of the document, e.g. uplifted due to death, uplifted to return to client etcetera. Instead of one alphabetical system, we ended up with three or four, each sorted alphabetically into bulging lever arch files. When a document was missing, each section had to be checked for clues to its whereabouts.

So why the bee?

A great fan of paperless systems, I opted to have my telephone bill emailed to me several years ago. Until that point, my itemised bill arrived in the post and was easy to comprehend. My call details were all in one place, although admittedly sectioned off into International, Local calls, peak and off peak (if I remember correctly). Not so now on the Telkom website I have been forced to link to. I experience difficulty logging in almost monthly. Once I have accomplished this feat, navigating to a list so that I can determine for example the cost of my off peak, international call is akin to finding a bra in the food section. Account detail doesn’t refer to calls. I tried downloading something called call detail and ended up with a bunch of data strung together in almost unending sentences of Notepad format.

Finally, after approximately ten minutes of precious data time, I found another label for call detail; this was view only. So, imagine my frustration when I find separate tabs for International, Local, Mobile, Other, each of which has to be opened separately!

Come on Telkom, your site might look fancy and give us graphs of usage and all sorts of other stuff, but please can we have a simple itemised bill that can be downloaded in a user friendly format to save to file for future reference.

Your website breakdown fanatics are causing your customers to have other kinds of breakdown on a regular basis. There’s a place for categorisation, but how many sub categories does one customer need? Is this not time for the K.I.S.S. approach?

By the way, you don’t have to change the appearance of your website every five minutes; nobody’s going to be impressed if you keep changing your windows. A less creative approach would be appreciated.


Photo courtesy of

5 thoughts on “Bee in my Bonnet – Telkom

  1. jac dowling says:

    Corsets Penny???? Stepins too no doubt and combinations – pink, beige and white (or off white)! lovely store Marks, I used to buy all my bras, corsets, woollies etc there and everything was exactly as it ought to be. So, well done. clearly Telkom needs to do a year’s training in the lingerie dept of M&S so that they’ll eventually get their bras in order and their numbers in neat and legible rows…lovely piece; thanks.

  2. jac dowling says:

    ps Have you tried the new Multichoice easy-to-use site? Humph.

  3. Susan says:

    I feel your pain, Penny…

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