Internet

Cry me a river

Amazon.com said it no longer trusts traditional delivery routes to South Africa.
Read time 4min 50sec

I give up. I really, really give up...

No, it's not the overpriced, slow-as-heck bandwidth masquerading as ADSL I have to work with. It's not another prominent person in a position of power caught with their hands in the till. It's not even the interest rates or the electricity. These things might have rolled into one oversized, nuclear-contaminated snowball that even my rose-tinted glasses are having trouble seeing through these days, but nope, they're not it.

"It" is the South African Post Office.

If they'd only change their name slightly to the South African Office of Post, we could refer to them as "SOAP", which would be eminently appropriate given the way other people's property just seems to slip through the fingers of its employees and into their pockets. Or the way in which such property seems to wash away without trace. Besides, SOAP is a bit less full-on than, say, "Robbing B******s". The latter being a term of endearment I'm beginning to suspect the folks at Amazon.com have been using to refer to the great South African public (and their post office) for some time.

"It", however, is also you.

Having covered ourselves in the recent glories of xenophobic attacks, we have now joined the ranks of "countries that Amazon.com won't ship to anymore because we steal from it". On the African continent, that puts us in a club of one. Not really the kind of competition you want to win. On the off-chance that your stuff does make it through to you, it seems there's every chance you're one of the thieving gits who exploits our international reputation for light-fingeredness and requests that Amazon resend your order "because it got stolen in the post". Nice one, people.

Given the demographics involved, odds are these are the same people who endlessly whine about how "they" are screwing up our country and couldn't organise the proverbial ho-down at the brewery because they're a bunch of dishonest crooks. Yessir - I'm talking to YOU.

While the rest of the world is beginning to see past the glare of our rainbow and collective Madiba shirt, it seems we're so busy navel-gazing that we haven't noticed what a selfish bunch of entitled, chip-on-shoulder merchants we've become. Hardly surprising when you consider that we live in a country where finger-pointing is the national pastime.

No one here ever seems to include their own behaviour in the litany of corruption and criminality we talk about on an endless basis.

Pamela Weaver is a Senior Writer for ITWeb Informatica

Amazon.com's announcement that it no longer trusts traditional delivery routes to South Africa will no doubt be greeted with the same old admonishments (with the obligatory references to how in God's name "they" think they can run 2010) as everyone yet again mentally packs their bags, muttering words like "eNatis", "wheresmybroadband" and "JayZee". We haven't lost our voices, but reason certainly seems to have left us; no one here ever seems to include their own behaviour in the litany of corruption and criminality we talk about on an endless basis. The SAPO, if it says anything at all (and to date, it hasn't) will focus on telling us they've reduced theft to, like, 10%, before looking around the room with a gormless grin, waiting for whatever the civil service equivalent of a gold star is.

E-business is easily one of the best things since sliced bread. I love being able to transact online. But for all the ease of use, we have to remember the human factor - if a chain is only as good as its weakest link, few technologies are able to compensate for human behaviour.

Whether it's the financial services workers who leave their laptops on the front seat of their cars or the postal worker familiar with Amazon's goods replacement policy, technology cannot be expected to provide brains or honesty. And thanks to our spectacular failure in the latter department, we're yet again having to cough up the cash to compensate for our sins, seemingly incapable of joining the dots between our own bad behaviour and the capacity of those doing business here to charge us top dollar for the services they render.

As long as service providers are able to point all too easily to the costs incurred by our anti-social/criminal behaviour - be it cable theft, defaulting on cellphone bills or stealing parcels in the post - we'll not only continue to pay through the nose for it, but we'll also continue to get the sort of services that maybe we actually deserve. We walk in ever-decreasing circles as e-businesses point to customer behaviour for high charges, while customers use those same charges as an excuse to stick it to big business at every opportunity they get. It's only going to stop when someone nails our other foot to the floor or we grow a brain.

When Joni Mitchell asked for someone to send her a river, I know she wasn't thinking about ordering stuff online, but her words just seem to fit for Amazon addicts like myself. A lot of my stuff does in fact arrive. But you have to wonder what's really in it for someone when your copy of "Caislean Oir" (a novel written in the incredibly widely-spoken-in-Africa Irish language) goes missing along with a vegetarian cookbook. Joni wanted a river to skate away on. I think I'd put mine to more sinister use...

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