Since I’ll spend a fair amount of time on the move around and out of Sri Lanka over the next three years on account of the award of a Fellowship that will have me looking at the nexus of mobiles, peacebuilding and democratic governance, I wanted to purchase a Blackberry from Dialog Telekom yesterday.
Went to their Future Centre down Duplication Road and despite two models displayed in the showcase was told that all Blackberry’s were out of stock.
Called up their Blackberry hotline today, spoke to a bloke called Ashan, who told me that apart from a few devices reserved for Club Vision members, all Blackberry devices are out of stock. Dialog has no idea, or is not letting on for some bizarre reason, when stocks will arrive in Sri Lanka. I asked whether a Club Vision customer could buy it on my behalf and was told that this was not possible either.
So basically, an ordinary customer who wants to buy a Blackberry from Dialog today simply can’t, because there are ostensibly no devices available. The only option given to me by Dialog if I didn’t want to wait for an indeterminable period before I could purchase a Blackberry from them was to get someone to purchase a device from abroad.
Forget about giving wings to equality. How about ensuring there are adequate stocks of devices that form part of Dialog Telekom’s core business?
It’s also an interesting situation to find oneself in. I’ve been with Dialog for yonks and have no desire to shift customer loyalty. But I realised today that this loyalty in fact was acting as a sort of lock-in to Dialog’s inanity. If mobile numbers were portable in Sri Lanka, perhaps I would have switched networks or at least threatened to do so for some added leverage to get me one of the Blackberry’s “reserved” for Club Vision customers.
I also wondered whether this sudden unavailability of Blackberry’s was due to recent Ministry of Defence ban on GPS enabled mobiles, which both the 8310 Curve and Pearl support (though I don’t believe maps for Sri Lanka are available other than in the most basic form). But if that’s the case, why does Dialog Telekom advise customers to get such devices from abroad?
Beckett would have found great inspiration in the behaviour of both public and private sector actors in Sri Lanka today.