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Poor service delivery seems to be on the increase in South Africa.  Did South Africans not complaining enough; give service providers the proverbial blank cheque to treat customers like they are doing us a favour?

Over a week ago, I tried to get a certified copy of my identity book (ID).  Should be quite easy, right?  No, quite the opposite.

What should have taken half an hour in total, turned into an hour and a half of sheer frustration and going the ‘extra unplanned mile’.

To ensure that I don’t waste time; I called ABSA Bank beforehand to confirm that they certify copies of IDs.  At first I was told (ABSA receptionist didn’t even listen to my request); that I must go to Home Affairs to get an ID.  I said that I actually stated that I have one and just want a certified copy.  ‘Oh, okay …… yes we do that’.
A colleague decided to join me for what I thought would be a quick trip to Centurion Mall (one of the suburbs in Gauteng).

After waiting in the queue for a while, it was my turn; only to be told that they don’t certify copies of IDs. They only perform this for their own business purposes.  “Same process either way (a cute little stamp and signature to validate my ID is authentic) was my response”.  My colleague walked out and started to laugh.  Incidentally her husband works for ABSA and he confirmed they do this. I saw that insisting to get my ‘stamp’ was going to be futile.
Instead I was told to go to the Post Office (thankfully also located in the Mall) to get a certified copy.

On entering Centurion Mall Post Office; I looked at which counter I should get my ID certified.  No clear sign or indication of which counters cater for what requirement.  The only ‘sign’; a photocopied piece of paper stuck on one of the pillars saying where to renew motor vehicle licenses.
I joined the queue and saw the one counter assistant is free. I asked her which counter does certified copies of IDs.  She abruptly responded quite loudly that it is her and that I should read the signs at the entrance.  I said there are no signs (I looked) to which she increased her rude behaviour and went a couple of decibels louder.
I presented my ID to which I was told they don’t make photocopies for private individuals.  Photocopies for private users come out blank.  Only the official post office copies display.
(Must be a great advanced copier that could recognize a private person and post office staff member on sight.)
I started to laugh at the absurdity of her statement.  The man at the counter next to me burst out laughing, while other people in the queue responded with giggles.  This while I saw her colleague making a photocopy.
I asked her what’s ‘that’ in her colleague’s hand.  She changed her story to ‘the quality of copies are poor’.  I must go to Kodak to get my copy and then come back.

Off to Kodak, now very irritated (I don’t have hours and hours of lunch-time); I found myself in their shop.  There was no visible queue or indication of one to see where I must fall in line.  When I asked where the queue is and who must still be helped, the staff looked at me if I was from another planet.  No queue – no IQ either; it appeared.
Finally I asked those around me; who still needs to be helped so I can find my place in the pecking order.

After one person just pushed in and seeing another looking to do the same (because they had a language advantage); I looked the assistant straight in the eye and asked for my copy.  I can tell you one thing – you wouldn’t try this in Cape Town (town in Western Cape, South Africa) – my hometown without risking a ‘klap’ (slap).

Copy in hand, back at the post office the assistant was no longer at the window; I should be served at. Approaching the next window, the woman walked away (she saw me) and pretended not to hear me when I called her.  When I approached her colleague; I got an even more rude response.  I must be at the initial window where I should be helped.  I said but it is empty.  She could clearly see that. Is there skeleton staff we couldn’t see?

Patience now gone at the poor service delivery from ABSA, Kodak and Post Office I told her firmly that I need help to get one stamp on a piece of paper saying it is a true copy of my ID; then I’d be on my way.  Seeing that I wasn’t going to leave without my certified copy; she yanked out her stamp; stamped it and did a squiggle as some way of signature.

I needed a latte and fast; to calm me down and headed for Chateau Gateaux – Patisserie where my colleague and I were greeted with a friendly smile.  Not to mention the friendliness and customer service at Foschini as well’ when I had a quick look at a blouse they had on display. Quite the opposite to my three-in-a-row of poor service.

With job scarcity and competition in the market; would service providers not want to be the best in keeping customers coming through their doors?