Buffalo City Metro has insisted its electricity helpline numbers are working fine, but for a bit of “congestion” during outages.
Last Thursday, during an outage in Mdantsane, a reporter tried for two hours to call the only advertised electricity fault number, (043)763-8656. An automated message replied: “The network is busy”.
BCM communications official Bathandwa Diamond later said a second number, (043)708-5600, was also available to the public.
A Dispatch check on BCM’s website and Facebook page revealed no sign of this number.
In a further revelation for weary ratepayers trying to get after-hours service, it turns out the promise of a 24-hour customer care centre is limited to a 24-hour “call-in” system.
The walk-in customer care system only operates between 7am and 5pm, but it does so “seven days a week”, said Diamond.
The Dispatch tested this out and tried to visit the 24-hour centre after hours but was denied entry by security at the gate.
Diamond said: “Access to the centre is possible between 7am and 5pm, seven days a week. However, it is not a 24-hour walk-in centre, it is a 24-hour telephonic fault reporting centre.”
Diamond conceded that the lines became jammed at times. “The number (043)763-8656 is not malfunctioning but is congested during peak periods and that is why (043)708-5600 is available.”
This number is not on the BCM website, nor their Facebook page; nor the billboard outside the customer care centre in Fort Jackson.
Diamond said: “We have 20 telephone lines coming into the call centre, four of which are on (043)763-8656 and 16 on (043)708-5600. Both have been communicated to the departments and councillors and listed on the social media site.”