Recently Little Big Sis moved to the arse-end of nowhere - I mean, Limpopo - with her hubby. Obviously, this is a big move for a trendy young couple with two puppies. They had to get used to waking up to beautiful sunrises, drinking sundowners on their farmhouse patio, listening to the cries of the wild...
Anyway, when she's not sipping on G&T's and commiserating about how much she misses sirens and taxi's hooting through the night, Little Big Sis has been trying to get internet connection set up from home. As you might imagine, broadband is not handed out by the local petrol attendant in Limpopo. It took her four months to get a satellite internet connection, but by the sounds of it, she's been successful. She's back online.
Now, switch to the Netherlands. Third most populated country in Europe (after Malta and Monaco, but you knew that of course), hub of business and travel. The Hague, situated right in the middle of the Randstad region - international headquarters of oil conglomerates, EU judicial bodies... fairly central location in terms of first-world living.
And yet, it took us two months to get internet.
First we had to choose a provider - one of the joys of healthy competition. But wait... of the four or five 'competitive' providers, only one actually provides service to our area. In the middle of The Hague. Difficult location perhaps? Does the queen's palace get in the way of the signal?
Okay, so much for choice. We'll go for that one then. Now for a time line...
6th December: request internet and telephone connection. Receive confirmation that our request will be processed 8th January.
30th December: receive confirmation that our signal has been activated. Phone provider to ask if that signal comes with a telephone connection/modem, or should we just shove stripped wires into the back-end of our phone. Book technician appointment for 19th December.
19th January: sit home waiting for technician "between the hours of 11am and 6pm". Would hate to be too specific on this one. Techie arrives, rips hole in wall and informs me that he can't find the right wire to connect our internet up.
20th January: call landlord to request information on general phone set up for apartment block. Landlord yawns and says he's "99% sure that it's somewhere in the grey box downstairs." Thanks Dipshit.
23rd January: call provider to arrange new installation appointment, based on 99% information. Provider says they can't use their system at the moment, but they will call us back "within 5 days" to arrange a new appointment.
30th January: call provider to enquire about the call back we never received. Provider says they have a problem with their system and will have to call back. I get snotty with underpaid service rep and give up hope of getting internet before Easter.
4th February: provider actually calls back to arrange appointment for 8am tomorrow morning. I think it's a hoax call due to promptness of response and immediacy of suggested appointment, but accept anyway.
5th February, 8am: techie arrives, can't find general phone connection in "grey box downstairs" and quotes 400-EUROS for digging up the street in search of missing connection point. I convey quote to landlord. Landlord has a sudden rush of blood to the brain and remembers that there may be another point around the side of the flats, on the outside, behind the bike parking. Maybe. Isn't it just amazing how quoting a large payment can jog the memory?
5th February, 10am: technie locates 'maybe' telecom connection around side of house, re-rips a whole in our wall and within 15 minutes we have internet and landline access.
Now that wasn't so hard, was it?
The moral of the story? No matter where you live - 50km from the nearest ox-wagon watering hole, or next to Renaissance royal blood in urban overpopulation - you're likely to get the same service.
Globalisation. What a great leveller of the service industry.