Having made those nice Excel-spreadsheets I mentioned a while ago, and finding the energy and time to visit the water & electricity company turned out to be just the start of an even more energy consuming process.
All numbers and bills at hand I was directed to the administrator’s office, where I explained the problem. He nodded his head. Yes, they were aware of the situation. Since the device for taking the numbers had broken down, all numbers for our entire neighborhood had gotten lost and they had made an assumption for the water and electricity consumption for that month. There was nothing to worry about, since it would all be corrected with next month’s bill.
Sure, I wasn’t too worried about that. And with there being just one flat rate for electricity I am fine with that. However for water it’s a bit different, there being different rates, water getting more expensive per cubic meter once you pass the 20 m3 per month. Every m3 over 20 has a price triple of those first 20.
With the way they had been billing me for water over the past half year, I’ve been paying a lot over 20 whereas I’ve not even been using 20 m3 per month.
The administrator tried to convince me nothing was wrong and I convinced him it was wrong.
Since he had no clue as how to solve the problem, he had someone take me to the general manager, who first had me waiting for a good 20 minutes and then pretended I was some kind of fool. He stated they did not do refunds, it not being their policy. And by the way, what was I complaining about, he asked me with a patronizing cynical smile, it was only the money for one shirt I was talking about. I should not at all be bothering him for that.
I looked at his face and saw nothing but disrespect. That’s the moment I got angry.
‘So you think it’s up to you to make assumptions on my financial situation? What if that money makes the difference on whether or not I’ll be able to eat next week? And for your information, I do buy my shirts on the market, second hand, 350 till 400 Francs CFA each. I may have a white skin, I do not have a money tree in my garden and your company is taking my money!’
He just chuckled a bit.
Leaning back, crossing my arms in front of my chest, making myself comfortable in the huge leather chair I added ‘I am not going to leave your office without a solution.’
He looked at me, taking in the situation, hesitated for a while, grabbed the phone, called the administrator stating ‘She’s threatening she’s not gonna leave. Make sure to arrange things, I’ll send her back to you.’
So, there I was again, back in the administrator’s office, who had honestly no idea on how to deal with the situation. He honestly admitted he had no clue on how they could refund me, since bills were processed at the headquarters in Bamako. Feeling quite uncomfortable with it all, he left to talk to the head of the cash department. Unfortunately that man had the afternoon of, it being Friday. He returned a bit paler, begging me to return on Monday to have it all arranged.
I felt for him and left.
I made it there on Wednesday. The administrator had regained his strength and firmly told me to go to the employee involved with customer satisfaction.
Another office, another person, same story.
‘What’s the problem?’, I was asked.
‘What’s the problem?’, I replied with disbelieve. ‘If you’re not yet informed by your colleague or your director, please check with them, they can explain it to you.’
No, he needed to hear it from me, he stated. I grabbed the paper that was on his desk and pointed at the calculation his colleague had made, showing all the figures.
‘But, I don’t see a problem’, he said with the same kind of patronizing look on his face, I had before seen with his director.
It was obviously clear that the no-refund-policy includes all their faults also. He blamed me for not being at home when they came to check the meters, then he stated that the water meter couldn’t be read since the glass had been damaged.
We were at home, otherwise they couldn’t have read the electricity meter. The water meter belongs to their company, and the numbers were visible for anyone with a good eye. I had several times given the correct numbers to their employee, but they hadn’t used them. By the way the meter had already been changed.
He called in the meter reader, blaming him for not doing his job well, causing him and the company a lot of trouble. I looked at the scene in disbelieve.
Being exhausted and it all taking so much energy, I felt like I could faint any second soon. Time to leave! I stood up, grabbed the papers (unfortunately also a few that weren’t mine), asked if it would be necessary to go to the police to get my refund and wished them a nice day.
Before I had covered the two meters to the door, the men were ordering me to sit down, calm down and show them respect. Nobody had given me permission to take their papers – true! – and the situation would be solved.
I told them that it didn’t feel like I was given any respect, nor that I was taken seriously.
‘We have no way we can refund you through the company, that being the policy and the administrative system, but I’ll refund you out of my own pocket, since it is my job to make sure our clients are satisfied’, the customer satisfaction employee told me.
‘Give me your number, I’ll call you tonight after having visited the bank and we’ll have it arranged’, he added.
He didn’t call and he may never have intended to.
I’m no more putting any energy in it, trusting that the Universe will refund me one way or the other.
Last month they sent the meter reader twice, to double check on the numbers taken…