One really tries to support local business, but a plethora of outrages has made your columnist resolve to cop no more wretched service, inferior goods, shameful scams and bare-faced lies.
Prannie, trusty old steed of the Feroza breed, was booked into the local bengkel (mechanic). Papers were laboriously prepared and signed. All was understood: Prannie would be collected after her overhaul by a nominated Nyoman and returned to her own digs. Full payment would be made on the specified date of our return from overseas.
Running less late than usual, we flagged a cab for the dash to the airport as we wheeled Prannie into the bengkel, where the mechanic announced that his boss demanded a hefty deposit. The local ATM would not oblige and after a mad search for a machine that could actually do its job, we were late to the airport and peeved at the non-negotiable, late change to arrangements.
Two weeks later an SMS abruptly advised that the bengkel boss, an unsighted specimen, would not release Prannie before full payment. We pondered whose friends she would be ferrying about Bali over the next two weeks and cancelled the confused Nyoman’s agenda to pick up the car and, later, us from the airport.
Back in Bali, we paid the much-higher-than-quoted bill that included several tanks of fuel, learned that car parts previously replaced were “not original,” put food in Prannie’s empty tummy and set off on the two-hour run to Candi Dasa. At the wheel, The Playmate grinned and glowed as he revelled in the sole stretch of road that permits him to push Prannie to 80kmh.
Then came a great whooshing sound followed by staccato rattles, like a giant bird soaring too close to the side window and flapping off in panic. A peek behind revealed our newly installed weather shield sailing then bouncing down the median strip. Thanks, bengkel.
The five-hour trip home was riddled with stops along the hot highway to let Prannie cool down enough to be fed water. She had been returned to us with a dry radiator. The mechanic, in Singaraja for a ceremony, acknowledged his oversight and arranged for his friend to replace the coolant at no cost.
When a bill was presented, the situation deteriorated into a phone shouting match between Jimbaran (J) and Singaraja (S) in which S refused to release the car, J threatened to involve the police, S hung up and J snatched the keys and nearly reversed the car into a cunningly disguised pit in the workshop floor before making like a confused kangaroo and hopping off past an awe-struck crowd.
Recently, we were foolishly pleased to see a spacious, upmarket-looking warung preparing to open nearby and breezed in to check it out. Both the menu and the bathroom passed inspection. Clearly, though, they were unready for business so we waited several days and returned with high expectations.
“Sorry, hamburger finish,” was manageable, but when our bottle of hot beer arrived with two massive mugs stuffed with ice, our hopes sank. All of the many staff had forgotten to refrigerate the beer. There were no ice buckets.
We drank hot Bintang and left despondent after a failed attempt to demonstrate that the wall-mounted dispenser was positioned too low to the basin to allow anyone to access its lever to release its liquid soap.
Six weeks later, a long enough period to iron out teething problems, we tried again, first navigating the dozens of staff motorbikes randomly sprawled across the car park and then establishing at the desk that hamburgers were available and the beer was cold. “Ya, we have; ya, dingin (cold),” was the empty promise, followed at the point of ordering by: “You want ice with Bintang?” Again, or still, it had not been refrigerated.
“And?” – like “So, what’s your problem?” – was the staff response when I bothered to complain. Suffice to say The Playmate, who these days imagines he carries our household’s exclusive right to have tantrums, was miffed at the short and sharp scene that ensued.
Not one of our dozens of local laundries has shown itself capable of caring enough to return our laundry, and not someone else’s, in an acceptable state and time-frame. So they don’t get our business.
Neither do the computer “technicians” who took my laptop for two days and returned it, under great pressure, three weeks later having replaced its primary software with a pirated version, failed to activate the microphone, permanently deleted four years of painstakingly collected favourites, converted most programmes to Bahasa Indonesia, lost precious documents, installed two calendars, two inboxes and perpetrated a whole heap of other inexplicable idiocies.
A degree of common-sense and professional responsibility would go a long way. A bit of customer courtesy would save reputations and bring business. Some homework before the next starry-eyed grand opening would save tears and jobs. “We are only technicians,” was the pitiful excuse for the sorry state of my laptop. Well, I’m only human, and I’m not going to take it anymore.