We did our utmost to write a polite letter. We were writing to Eskom and they have a lot of influence in our lives. They are, after all, the people who decide when we will have electricity and when not. This was not about the matter of power cuts though. Our home is wrongly registered as Agricultural, when it should be Residential. This is important because Residential rates are not as unreasonable than those registered as Agricultural. Accordingly, this was pointed out in our letter, which was couched in fairly humble language and circulated to a number of senior functionaries.

There was no immediate response so, knowing that senior Eskom personnel are too friendly and polite simply to ignore us, we wrote again, sending our letter to the same senior people again. If we had the address of one wrong, we would surely be successful with at least one of the others.

And we were right. This time we received a response. In equally polite language it said, “For all enquiries contact us at the following email address: customerservices(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)eskom.co.za “ Now we are getting somewhere, I thought. We sent our letter by email mail to the suggested address – and waited.

A response came back immediately, and I mean immediately, telling us to send our email to… yes, you guessed it – customerservices@eskom. So I sent it again, making sure the address is right. Immediately the response came back, directing me to send it to same email address that I have send it to twice already.  Personally have always doubted the efficiency and efficacy of the digital world and presumed our email had been shifted off to some unlikely cyber destination in an unlikely place – like Tajikistan, for instance. So sent it again, but this time I also cc’d it twice to the same address.

Again we had the same response, so we composed a new letter and sent it to the person who had answered our previous letter, not the email – which had not been answered. It was again answered in delightfully polite terms. The key of its message was, “For all enquiries contact us at the following email address: customerservices@eskom.”

“I knew it,” I told Miriam. “Our previous email got scrambled in cyberspace.”

“I wonder,” she said.

Where do you hand deliver a letter to Eskom? I wondered.

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