MTN: Excellence in Incompetence

I apologize for the length of time in between these messages to you,
dear reader. I hold my former internet service provider, MTN,
responsible for the delay. When they’re not ignoring their failing
equipment, MTN is making it even more expensive to get internet access
in Ghana by changing their billing structure. A Saturday Night Live
skit comes to mind…

“We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.”

Patience is the name of the game in Peace Corps, but I refuse to pay
for the gross level of incompetence I see on a regular basis.
Thankfully, there are several competing cell companies in Ghana, and
most of them provide internet access over their cell networks, all for
a great deal less than MTN charges. Therefore, I gleefully report that
as of 30 minutes ago, I am no longer a customer of MTN.

However, as part of their continuing efforts to make their customer’s
(or former customers, in my case) lives difficult, they cannot
*actually* refund my deposit to me at their office in Sunyani. I have
to send notice to the head office in Accra, which will then verify
that I have, indeed, cancelled my service, and will refund my deposit
to me. In Accra. Which is roughly 10 hours of travel from my site. I
guess it’s much easier to take GHC60 than it is to pull it out of a
drawer and give it back to me.

I’ve sent notice. I would have liked to have sent a lot more than
notice, but in the interests of making you, my fellow Americans, look
good in the eyes of Ghana and the rest of Africa, I have kept my
temper in check.

So, here I sit, in an internet cafe, in the regional capital of the
Brong-Ahafo region. I’m waiting to see if it will be possible today to
get internet access through Tigo, the cell phone company I currently
use, and catching up on everything I’ve missed in my week of no

We’re coming to the end of our Term II holiday. Part of me is ready to
get back to teaching, but I am also reluctant to head back to 12-hour
days teaching days and an over-crowded computer lab. Here’s a pleasant
list of my vacation activities.

– I planted a garden. I’m still waiting for things to sprout. I’ll let
you know how that goes.

– I spent a few days on the beach with Caroline and some other
friends. That was wonderful; we built campfires on the beach and dined
al fresco, and enjoyed the cooling breezes and tropical waters with
great zeal.

– I met with an NGO in Accra regarding wireless internet access for my
town and the surrounding communities, and spent some time with my
headmaster discussing the feasibility of building a new boys’ hostel
with community support. I see these types of community projects
becoming a larger part of my daily work as time goes on.

– I read a ton of books.

My time is about up. I’m going to go do some shopping and see about
getting some sort of food. As always, please keep me posted about home
and feel free to send on any questions you might have.

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I'm just this guy, you know?