Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My trip to the exchange

I had the pleasure of visiting the central telephone exchange for the city of Karachi. Why prêt ail did I do this? Well it all started when I got my telephone bill in the mail. I was amazed to see that they had charged me five times the normal amount! Had all that blogging finally caught up with me? I figured that was not possible I pay a set amount every month for unlimited access. There had to be something else.

So I called up a 24-hour help line that PTCL had setup for such an occasion. These guys are great when you need help troubleshooting your Internet connection. They’re patient and well informed. So I can’t complain much in that area. However they did say that I would have to go down to the Clifton Telephone Exchange if I wanted to get my bill adjusted. Clifton is on one side of the city (the side that’s next to the sea) and I am on the other side (the side bordering the interior of Sindh). So traveling all the way over there and back would take up most of the day. Something I wanted to avoid at all costs.

I asked for an email address where I could send in an application for getting the bill adjusted. No can do they told me you have to show up in person with all your original documents and submit them for a formal inquiry. Then if your story checks out we will pretend like we didn’t do anything wrong and that this is all your fault, but will graciously charge you the normal amount because we’re so goddamn benevolent.

Great I told them and hung up. Now it was time to get all my papers in order and head down to Clifton. Once I got there. The guards wouldn’t let me in. Go around back you can’t come in the front, you’re a goddamn customer. So I went around back. “Can anyone tell me where customer service is?”

“Hahaha! You want customer service? Keep dreaming.” So I bounced around the compound looking for a way in. Finally I stumbled upon a waiting room filled with other people waiting to get their bills settled. So I took a seat and waited. I noticed a fat lady sitting behind a desk yapping away in the phone. She was telling her friend about the latest movie she saw. Clearly she was suppose to be helping us but couldn’t be bothered.

Finally the manager waltz in after his 2-hour lunch break. Everyone handed their bills to him. When I did the same he gave me a funny look. “You need to be questioned before coming here. Be gone!” So I bounced around the compound some more until I stumbled upon the DSL complaint center. I entered and found a large man behind an even larger desk.

“I’ve come to have my bill adjusted.”

“Muhahaha. Come forth puny human.” I handed my documents to him, at first he tried telling me off “Clearly we have made no mistake. You must give me ever last gold nuggets that you have. Bwahahahaha.”

At that moment I learned of the fickle nature of Pakistani politics. An important looking man enters the room and announces “I have unlocked the door!” the room erupts with cheers. I am sitting there looking on in amazement, wondering what would happen if he opened the door. Just then the big guy behind the desks gets a phone call.

“Gee sir, oh thank you sir,” he says with a big goofy grin on his face. “That’s was him he says I can move on up!” he has his minions clear his desk and is whisked away to his new office.

In his place is a new guy “You can haz gold nuggets.”

“I can?”

“Sure why not?” he puts it down in writing and sends me on my way. I make my way back to customer service, results of formal inquiry in hand. Now I must admit that the manager was a pleasant guy even though he did take a 2-hour lunch break. He issued a letter stating more or less that I can’t be charged this many gold nuggets and that this should not happen again.

Of course my bill still wasn’t adjusted this letter simply stated their intentions of doing so. I would have to meet the revenue officer if I wanted that done. Again I found my self, bouncing around the compound until I stumbled upon the RO.

“Please to be adjusting my bill.” I told him

“Meh, okay fine” he crosses some figures out with his pen slaps on new ones stamp stamp sign sign and viola adjusted bill at your service. “Now pay this at the bank make photo copies and submit to your local telephone exchange otherwise this starts up all over again.”
I did as I was told. But there still is a chance that this happens again. Since I don’t have an insider at PTCL, I suppose I should practice bouncing around some more.
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