Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The hole truth

Beloved Wife and I were awoken at dawn on Saturday 9th January by a curious knocking sound. I put it down to next door’s Damage It Yourself activities, but this turned out to be wrong. What had actually come to pass is that DEWA was installing a new water main in the footway outside the Crumbling Villa. When we attempted to get the car off the property following breakfast, this proved impossible owing to an impassable trench right across our frontage. Just as well then that the Goatmobile was outside. It was now surrounded by large wobbly piles of concrete blocks that formerly composed the footway and drive.

It wasn’t only the Crumbling Villa. The whole street was being done, so by the end of the day the trench stretched nearly half a kilometre.

To be fair, the guys doing the work did backfill the trench reasonably swiftly, although the entire street now resembled a building site with piles of sand and concrete block paving as far as the eye could see. At least there was driveway access.

And then... nothing happened.

Still nothing a fortnight later.

Until yesterday, when I rang DEWA. The woman at the DEWA end of the phone line directed me to call another number. I did so, and was regaled with variations on a theme of ‘number unobtainable’, ‘engaged’, ‘not in service’, and ‘ringing for twenty – yes, twenty – minutes’. In any event, nobody picked up. So much for Customer Service. I was disappointed but not actually surprised.

Ringing DEWA’s main switchboard number again (04/324 4444 if you’re feeling lucky), this time I launched with, “I wish to register a complaint. There is an enormous hole in front of my house,” which is nearly true. I was then given the emergency number: 04 991.

Anyway, 04 991 was answered within two rings. I explained the whole problem with access to property, the mess, and that there had been no activity for two weeks. The helpful and apologetic man from DEWA told me that the evident delay was caused by DEWA not being allowed to replace interlock blocks because this had to be done by the Municipality (who of course aren’t even approached by DEWA until the trench and pipe works have been finished...) He took the DEWA reference number of the Crumbling Villa, my phone number, he gave me a complaint number, and he promised to call me back.

Yeah, right.

And, less than an hour later, he called me back! I was amazed and pleasantly surprised.

It wasn’t DEWA who had done the trench work, apparently. It was DEWA’s subcontractor, working for DEWA, under specific DEWA instructions. And this makes all the difference. Furthermore, I was told that the final resurfacing would be carried out within the next day or two.

Now, this may be coincidence, but by the time I got home last night it was only seven hours since my phone call, and the driveway to the Crumbling Villa had been finished. Nobody else’s. Just mine.

This morning there was interlock paving in progress just a few doors up the road. With a bit of luck and a fair wind, the job might indeed be finished as DEWA’s representative had advised: within a day or two.



2020hindsight said...

How nice to be able to post something positive about Customer Service here.

And nice to read a story that has a happy ending !

Jayne said...

Good grief!

Mme Cyn said...


Anonymous said...

I'm happy that it worked out for you guys. I loved reading your account of it; reminds me of what I lived with for 11 years! Ah, I'm glad I replaced those shifting dunes of sand for the shifting 'dunes' of snow. :)


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