Phone run around

Guyana Chronicle
August 17, 1999

FEW would doubt that there have been major improvements in the telephone system in the country in recent years.

But few would also disagree that the phone company, which has a monopoly in the sector here that is being challenged by some, has not been giving the best of service.

True, customers no longer have to book overseas calls hours in advance and hope to get connected to their party the next day or night. And they do not have to join long queues at the Bank of Guyana building in Georgetown to try to get in touch by phone with relatives or friends overseas.

Thousands more have phones in their homes and can get in touch with people in almost any part of the world within seconds.

But thousands more are still desperately waiting for the service and many despair of getting connected soon.

Suffering customers regularly write to the newspapers with complaints about poor service, no service and other problems and others try to find justice through the watchdog Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Communities not yet connected to the national telephone system have petitioned the firm and government officials hoping for some relief.

Relief and improvements are promised in the continuing national expansion programme but we feel the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) company also owes it to its customers to ensure a much better degree of service.

One example will serve to demonstrate what we mean.

A reader overseas asked for us help by e-mail (through the Internet serviced by GT&T).

This happens often as newspapers sometimes are the only source of assistance to people who may need information in a hurry.

To help access the information meant looking in the GT&T 1999 telephone directory for a number for the National Library in Georgetown.

One number listed rang out and the other was the number for an advertising company in Georgetown - a wrong number listed in the directory for the library.

Help should have come from 92 - the number assigned for that purpose.

It was engaged for quite a while yesterday before a tired-sounding operator answered.

She checked and gave the same two numbers in the directory, including the wrong number.

She helpfully offered to check "the computer" when advised that the number she had provided was a wrong number. After a check on the computer, she apologised that there was no help there - the computer also had the wrong number!

Screw-ups like these could mean heavy losses for some people in this fast-moving world so dependent on instant telecommunication.

Sub-standard services cannot be tolerated and GT&T has to move to urgently improve its efficiency in the services it provides.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples