Thank-You So Much for Waiting

Why does it take a major telecommunications provider eight days to rectify a simple fault on a phone line in New Zealand? No. it’s not a bad joke, it really happened to me last week.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed there was a lot of background noise on my phone line. About the same time, my home office ADSL broadband began to get mighty slow. Eventually I lost all access to the Internet, although my phone remained working, but with even more noise. So I set about eliminating all the possible causes of the fault including swapping the router/modem, replacing the cabling and testing wall socket filters. No joy, so now it’s time to call the helpdesk.

Now when you call the helpdesk you first have to navigate the voice activated interface which (if it works) places you in a queue to speak to a real person. That’s fine, they play some cool Kiwi music that I like whilst I wait (Liam Finn, Anika Moa etc). Any moment I will get to speak to a technician who can resolve my fault – wrong. After a few minutes a lovely Filipina lady called Maria answers and we go through all the standard questions like, “have you turned your modem on and off?” She’s very polite, so I play along. When this fails to solve the problem she decides to put me on hold in order to speak to her supervisor. More music. After ten minutes in the holding pattern I realise she has lost the call.

Second attempt to call helpdesk, virtual receptionist then more music. Then I get a charming fellow from Manila called Arvin. He’s a bit more technically savvy and we talk about testing and swapping filters on all the wall jacks (I bought new filters and a very long cable in anticipation of this conversation). Still no luck. But Arvin agrees there is a line issue and kindly books me a service call with “Advanced Broadband” the division who actually fix the phone lines back in New Zealand. Next day I wait at home for the scheduled call. Nobody calls.

Then I have some meetings and don’t get to follow up. I use CafeNet in the city to check my email and do a bit of business online. Couple of days later I try again. Another call patched through to Manila and the same music whilst I hold. Another lovely lady re-books my technician call, “thank-you so much for waiting”, she chimes. But the technician again fails to call the following evening. Why is this is taking so long? I head off to bed tired and annoyed. The next day, an early helpdesk call, more holding music and then a very sleepy sounding night shift worker in the Manila call centre. We both manage to remain polite. He books me another service call. This time the technician calls as per the agreed schedule. The technician agrees there is a line fault (told you so) and promises to contact me when he is at the local exchange. He makes good on his promise and cheerily calls back to report that a small wire-end was loose at the exchange. Back in business.

So I guess my first question is: why does it take eight days, five phone calls and two hours of my valuable time to resolve a simple fault? Now to be clear, I received very polite and helpful service at all times from the call centre workers and the technician. The problem is the system and how it is managed. Outsourcing call centre work is a great way to lower costs, especially so given that recruiting locally is also getting harder. But if the helpdesk staff do not have authority to make any decisions it reduces their role to that of triage and placating the customer. Furthermore, when they do take action, better make damn sure that request is followed up locally or risk alienating the customer.

I have long maintained that broadband speed is not the issue in New Zealand. I can run my consulting business from home on 500kbs or 100Mbs line speed or anything in between. There are other more pressing problems like international connectivity. And as long as we have a monopolistic situation we risk the continued imposition of high prices and poor service levels for broadband. Bring on the competition.

My second question then is this: if it takes eight days to reconnect a loose wire, how long do you reckon it will take to build and support a nationwide fibre network?


Epilogue of Enragement


I don’t normally speak out on such issues, but I am growing tired of political correctness and can hold my tongue no longer. A father of three young children has died as a result of another armed robbery by three bandits in South Auckland. [Subsequent to first posting this article, an 80 year old Asian woman has been beaten to death in the same area and another Asian businesswoman intentionally run over and killed in a carpark.]

I hope Tapu Misa, who attempted to rubbish a recent controversial research paper by Greg Clydesdale on Polynesian social , educational and economic underperformance, will visit the family of the shot man and apologise for the way both Maori and Polynesians continue to be overrepresented in the violent crime, child abuse statistics and in the prison population. I hope she will explain the reasons why the adoption (by some) of L.A. style gangster culture has led to an increase in drug taking, teen promiscuity and gun ownership. 

I hope she will also write another editorial detailing why some members of her community feel they are somehow exempt from aspiring to contribute economically apart from in the colourful street markets of Otara or mopping toilet floors at nearby Auckland airport.

Clydesdale’s research was not anti-migrant and neither is my argument. The victim in this attack was a migrant, a family man who came to New Zealand and was prepared to work hard for a better life. His attackers were young Polynesian or Maori males probably born and raised locally. The issue here is that we are growing a brown underclass and nobody seems to want to talk about it nor acknowledge the likely downstream consequences for our society. If embarrassed government agencies try to shut down this discussion, how can we possibly find a solution?

Forget broadband or taxation. This is the real election issue debate we should be having because it impacts on our collective economic futures and our prospects for ongoing social cohesion – irrespective of our skin colour.

15 thoughts on “Thank-You So Much for Waiting

  1. Hi Paul,

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now without commenting, but felt compelled to do so in response to your post above.

    I’ve actually been working on a project for Raf, that in a way relates to the topic at hand and have been reading a very interesting publication written by the Child Poverty Action Group. While many people on the Right don’t agree with the solution to the problem, there is no fault in their research as far as I can see.

    Yes Maori and Polynesian are overrepresented in the crime statistics, but then they are overrepresented for a number of other metrics as well, such as sickness, relative poverty, health issues, lack of education, all of which could be argued to be related.

    As someone who grew up on the fringes of socio-economic groups and neighbourhoods where those kids you describe come from I can sympathise with the perpetrators as well as the victim, though perhaps not to the same extent.

    They don’t have access to the social support and networks that you and I take for granted, which help us with learning, employment oppurtunities, capital, and contacts in business. Basically which allows us to succeed in life. All the poor are condemned to is mere survival. Passive spectators and consumers rather than participants and producers of value.

    I don’t know what the root of the assumption that is uncool to achieve in education as a Black or Maori for that matter, but it must be confronted and recognised that they can achieve something of value and merit beyond the sportsfield or the commercialised rap music industry.

    I guess its another failure of leadership in Maoridom and amongst the Pasifika community. Too busy blaming Pakeha for historic grievances so as to avoid responsibility for not dealing with the issues of today.

    What can be done about the problem? Well I have a few ideas, but nothing concrete at the moment. I wouldn’t mind corresponding further on the topic if you wish.

    Are you on linkedin Paul?

  2. Hi Jamesey. Thankyou so much for your comments. This is an important issue and if I can stimulate some debate by being a bit controversial then I am ready to wear that mantle. I was terribly upset and angered when I heard about the shooting. So uneccessary and pointless.

    Yes, I accept that not everyone has the same advantages in life but that does not give anyone the right to get drugged up, take a weapon and use it in a robbery against an unarmed victim. It seems to me that the moral basis for our society has failed somewhere when this happens.

    I also do not believe that throwing money at a particular ethnic group is a particularly intelligent solution either. One of the issues is that we have been led to believe is that we are working towards a partnership in this country. Unfortunately the situation we have in reality is Maori versus “the rest”. That seems more like apartheid to me. Polynesians, Asians and recent arrivals from Europe or elsewhere are excluded.

    In my opinion the myth of “bi-culturalism” is actually perpetuating inequalities between racial groups. In any event it is academic. I simply do not want to live in a country that is divided along racial lines.

    I would dearly love the disenfranchised and poor to reap the rewards of living in a relatively affluent society. But they have to get off their backsides and do something for themselves. And I don’t mean robbing liquor stores!

    Yep, I’m on LinkIn. But let’s keep this discussion going here for others to share.

  3. Hi Paul,

    I definately agree that open debate about such an important issue needs to happen, but in New Zealand its incredibly rare for it to be possible considering how polarised political discourse in this country is. Being an election year I expect people with axes to grind will capitalise on this tragedy to raise the profile of their particular cause.

    I can imagine how you felt when you heard of the murder. Even more so I can imagine how I would feel if one of my loved ones became a victim in a tragic incident like that.

    I’m certainly not condoning what the boys did nor apportioning the blame on anyone else, but them. I just feel its a shame that kids feel that there is no alternative for them beyond acting “tough” and becoming feckless thugs.

    Though I’m of both Maori and Pakeha ancestry I also see the “bi-culturalsim” as implicity divisive, because it implies that Pakeha have nothing to learn from Maori though their traditions and knowledge may be good enough for “the brown fella”.

    I guess the debate reflects the tension between the individualists and the socialists, those who believe in the promotes the primacy of the individual or the group. Personally unlike most of my fellow socialists.

    I’m an individualist and though I don’t identify myself as Maori, I recognise the positive contribution that the knowledge and point of view of can make in our culture. I think “the left” have felt a measure of guilt about the past wrongs perpetrated on the Maori people, which has forced them to feel as though they have to impose a bi-cultural agenda as a means of redress for those wrongs.

    Personally I don’t feel that culture necissitates complete conformity with the adoption of a frozen set of world views, social norms, traditions, and habits, but thats what the “bi-culturalists” and “multi-culturalists” imply when they categorise people into particular groups.

    What I want is a framework that doesn’t divide along ethnic, religious, or cultural lines, nor expects minorities to assimilate into a monolithic and uniform “monoculture”, but provides a way for the cross-pollination and enrichment as people share their their unique points of view, insights, or knowledge whether its been inherited from their ancestors or wholly their own.

    “I would dearly love the disenfranchised and poor to reap the rewards of living in a relatively affluent society. But they have to get off their backsides and do something for themselves.”

    Its much easier said than done. They certainly won’t be able to achieve it on their own without support and guidance, such as we received from our families or mentors in school or our social circles. Not that I’m saying the government should be the one with the responsiblity, because they’ve proven over the last 20 years they’re not up to it and probably some of their interventions could be argued to be counterproductive.

  4. I don’t know why this incident struck such a strong note with me, people have tragedies every day after all. I think it was simply the irony of a young, hard-working guy being cut down by a bunch of dead-beat losers who probably never experienced a hard day’s work in their short but miserable lives. There is such a thing as common decency that unites us all in condemnation whether we be Sikh, European, Maori or Chinese.

    As for white guilt, I’m not clear why the liberal left continue to feel burdened by it, surely we have attoned sufficiently for the sins of our great-great-great grandfathers? At some point the affected communities need to get on and make the best with what they have, just like the rest of us do.

    I agree that the government does not have all the answers and neither should they. People seem to look to the government to cure all manner of ills. But we need to help ourselves too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lot more liberal than you might think from reading this and I certainly did not come from a privileged background.

    So, how then can we restore common decency and self-respect to the lost and disenfranchised amongst us? You have some thoughts on the matter?

  5. I guess the outflow of sympathy from people in New Zealand, because of this tragedy is a testament to how far we have advanced as a society and in fact as a species. In the not too distant past humans who didn’t have kinship ties would have as a rule avoided each other and when they met it was usually in violent confrontation.

    “As for white guilt, I’m not clear why the liberal left continue to feel burdened by it, surely we have attoned sufficiently for the sins of our great-great-great grandfathers?”

    Perhaps they wanted to differentiate themselves from the earlier generation by their “collective guilt” as a means to prove their moral superiority or maybe its an innate tendency of “the Left” to feel guilty about SOMETHING. Before it was being born into a wealthy society whilst others were poor, then it was an inherited guilt complex from crimes perpetrated due to colonialism, and now its due to society’s wastefulness and destructiveness on the environment. Maybe both.

    “So, how then can we restore common decency and self-respect to the lost and disenfranchised amongst us? You have some thoughts on the matter?”

    I know I don’t have the answers that with certainly will fix society’s ills, but if we each have a positive impact on the life of a few kids lives or even just one and allow them to realise their potential, it will make a difference in at least one life.

    Just like in the classic story of the boy who was throwing stranded starfish back into the sea.

    I think its going to take a massive investment to provide positive outcomes for young people coming from some of the more disadvantaged areas of New Zealand. They’ve got so many obstacles to overcome just to get on even par with kids from richer areas, let alone suceed in life. I guess my prefered option is to promote mentorship for leaders in New Zealand to give kids from disadvantaged community’s an idea of what they can aspire to, assurance that they can achieve anything they wish, and support to assist them in achieving their goals.

    I read a great book awhile back, written by a Kiwi named Steve Carden, a former consultant for McKinsey & co. called New Zealand Unleashed. It contained an incredibly optimistic vision for this country’s future and his opinions how we should get there. Well worth a read.

    Steve is actually a founder of a great mentorship initiative similar to the one I advocated above, called the First Foundation.

  6. Hey, thanks for the information about First Foundation. I agree that mentorship is a really important feature in the lives of people who go on to achieve great things.

    To put this whole debate in a stronger context, I was listening to a radio discussion this morning about how food banks and social services are even more stretched these days with the rising cost of food and fuel. The Auckland City Mssioner says that they are seeing more and more “middle class” people with debt problems and other crises.

    So, to be fair, the growth of the Kiwi underclass is not just a brown phenomenon. But drugs and alcohol abuse and other social problems seem to follow when people are in crisis and have nowhere else to turn.

    Somehow we need to turn the tide.

  7. No worries. I think its a great initiative and thought it would appeal to considering you work with ION etc.

    Yes, its bad, but for me its not particularly unexpected. I foresaw what was coming in August last year what was coming, though I expected far worse and am suprised how well the powers that be have dealt with the “shitstorm” in the financial markets.

    Over the next few years I expect it to get even worse as the FED and other central banks turn their attention to killing inflation. Just watch the dollar tumble as the U.S. dollar rises. Maybe good for our exporters, but will make it harder to repay our debt, both public and private and will make our imports more expensive.

    I see a repeat of the 1980s as its going to take another Paul Volcker to strangle it, because its not going to fall back quickly merely because economic activity declines.

  8. While it is unlikely that there is any single fix for the plethora of social ills that NZ suffers there is one fundamental axiom that should always be at the forfront of our considerations when discussing potential solutions to these problems.

    We are humans and our primary social unit is the Family. All other social structures, our way of life and our viability as a species is founded upon this basic precept. When we, as a community, nation, or species overlook this principle we begin to lose our traction with the values we assert that we regard as important and society begins to break down sometimes in the manner you have witnessed recently, sometimes in other disturbing ways.

    If we are genuinely interested in enhancing our levels of social equity and harmony we must place a greatly increased importance on the relavance and value of the family unit beginning at all levels from the individual, to communities and right through up to central government. I don’t see NZ as having insurmountable race issues. More, we have issues about recognising what ‘glues’ us together as a people and the bonds which are really important for maintaining a healthy and secure society.

    When New Zealand places the family unit at the top of the tree there shall be no more enviable place to live.

    Did anyone else notice how this blog was so much more interesting than entrepreneurial techno stuff?

  9. Hi Gabriel. The breakdown of family units does have a lot to answer for, I agree. But I came from a single parent family myself and we certainly were not wealthy. At no point in my life did I ever feel motivated to carry out armed robbery, drive by shooting or random home invasion.

    My mother, father and grandparents were still able to instil a sense of morality into me from an early age, despite our difficulties.

    Perhaps this is what is missing?

    If you think there is no connection to my original blog theme, not true. I’m questioning why some sectors of society appear not to have the opportunity to participate economically and asking when are we going to address this situation.

  10. I’m a 25 yr old Samoan born and bred in NZ. I am the eldest of five children. I recently completed my studies and I am currently working as a Solicitor at one of NZ’s top firms. The 2nd eldest is in his last years at Med Sch. The 3rd is also at Uni, with the fourth in her last year at high school with ambitions of doing engineering next year. The youngest is still at primary school. My parent’s worked extremely hard to give us the opportunities my siblings and I have today. My mother never stopped working since she left school, with the majority of her working life holding down 2 jobs. She now runs her own business. My father has worked many jobs to put food on the table such as a factory hand, a panel beater, a taxi driver, and a social worker.

    I’m sick of these people committing outrageous crimes. But they are a small minority and they certainly aren’t in the enormous numbers that Clydesdale claims is creating an underclass.

    There are a lot more families like mine out there, but the Clydesdale’s of the world would rather not look at any positive outlooks of this countries future.

  11. R Auta, thankyou for sharing another perspective.

    Nobody is denying that there are thousands of model, hard-working Pasifika citizens such as you and your family and I have the greatest respect for anyone who works hard and gets themselves educated.

    What I’m alluding to is that there is a small (but growing), hard core underclass with such severe dysfunctionality that common decency and morality are entirely lacking. And to be honest, it’s not just a brown problem either. There are white ghettos in certain parts of the country too, let’s face it.

    People operating without hope have nothing left to lose. The issue for New Zealand is preventing this hopelessness from spreading. It may only be a “minority” doing the crimes, but that is little consolation to the families whose lives they have trashed. If Clydesdale had written a paper on white social dysfunctionality, do you think there would have been such an uproar from the PC brigade?

    It still feels a lot like we’ve got our heads in the sand on this one. Unfortunately the sand is filling the gap between a pair of railway tracks and there is a very large train coming around the bend.

  12. What Pacific people are angry about is not that Pacific people are behind many groups in socio-economic statistics. What Pacific people are angry about is the use of old statistics to draw a conclusion that suited his agenda. If he were a competent academic he would have gone through the correct procedures when producing an academic document. His conclusions have then been picked up by others to further their own uninformed views of Pacific peoples (born here or immigrant). You and I agree that it is a minority causing trouble. But I don’t agree it is growing. And at least that’s what CURRENT statistics show. If Clydesdale had used the old statistics and compared it with the new, he would have seen there isn’t a growth of an underclass, but an overall improvement in nearly all socio-economic indicators.

    I see Pacific people all the time. Obviously at home, my friends, at church, in sports etc. I don’t see this growing underclass. Statistics don’t show a growing underclass. Yet when a Pakeha academic says there is one, people blindly agree? Paul, do you interact with Pacific people? Have you done any (competent) research?

  13. I’ve stated throughout that the vast majority are law abiding, concerned and upstanding citizens. Furthermore, the PC government agencies that have failed to solve this problem are populated by intelligent PIs with good degrees. I have met one or two of them. My closest workmates are a Cook Islander and a couple of Fijians, my son has a cute playmate who is Samoan…etc

    I’m talking about the chunk of the population that are missing out.

    If the stats are improving, it is a good thing. But the fact that three Asians have died at the hands Maori or Polynesian criminals in the space of a fortnight in the same town is hardly a recommendation is it? I think we are a long way from being able to claim the moral and intellectual high ground on social progress in South Auckland.

    How about you quote me some peer reviewed academic research that supports your claim?

    …and I’d like to think having completed a Masters thesis that I do have some grasp of how the research system works. I seem to recall there are some fairly rigorous checks and balances before anyone can publish.

  14. We are the first to acknowledge there is still improvements to be made. Pacific people are not proud of the stupid actions of a very few. But to then come to the conclusion that there is a GROWING underclass is not only factually incorrect, but points to underlying stereotypical views that one holds of most Pacific peoples.

    Below is a link to statistics Mr Clydesdale did not use, from 2006! Yet the statistics he did use in his research was dated 2002.

    Here are some of the signs that show Pacific people are progressing, not creating a GROWING underclass.

    Increase in Pacific peoples with a post-school qualification
    • In 2006, 22 percent of Pacific peoples aged 15 years and over had a post-school
    qualification, up from 17 percent in 2001.
    • There has been a corresponding decrease in those whose highest qualification was a
    school qualification – from 47 percent in 2001 to 43 percent in 2006.

    Rise in employment for Pacific peoples aged 15 to 64 years
    For Pacific peoples aged 15 to 64 years who were in the labour force, the percentage employed
    has increased:
    • 84 percent were employed in 2001 (76,713 people)
    • 89 percent were employed in 2006 (94,695 people).
    This increase in employment was related to an increase in full-time employment.

    Increase in income levels for Pacific peoples
    The median annual income for adults (people aged 15 years and over) of Pacific ethnicity was:
    • $20,500 in 2006
    • $14,800 in 2001.
    This was lower than the median annual income for New Zealand overall ($24,400).

  15. After a considerable amount of thought, I decided to publish your response but without the personal remarks attacking my credibility.

    Excellent news that Pacific Island unemployment rate has dropped to “only” 11% at a time when unemployment in the general population sits around 3.5%.

    But you’ve missed my point entirely.

    I was alluding to a growing social underclass of individuals who are bereft of any sense of morality or respect for others and who get their kicks from aping violent LA style gang culture. Economic failure is only part of the equation. I was not surprised to learn that the police officer who died at the weekend did so at the hands of a gang member.

    You can twist my words as much as you like, but it won’t make the problem go away.


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